A new collection of holiday stories and poems from different traditions and experiences of many Islanders

For millennia, humans have devoted special days to celebration, atonement, thanksgiving, and commemoration. We call such occasions “holidays.” They may be religious or secular, or, like Christmas, a mingling of the earthly and the divine. Winter in the northern hemisphere – with icy winds and frozen earth, long nights and humans huddled closer together – inspires an especially keen need for ritual days of revelry and reflection.

Snow Softly Falling: Holiday Stories from Prince Edward Island gathers short stories, memoirs, and poems by four dozen well-known and newer Island authors. Here is the wide range of experience and emotion associated with winter holidays: joyful or serene; troubled or sorrowful; comical, harrowing, or sublime. Holidays can be bittersweet – cheerfulness blending into regret, disappointment into generosity. Happy reunions and cherished traditions merge with loss; disenchantment transforms into renewed faith in humanity, nature, and the transcendent.

Snow Softly Falling gives us tipsy carollers and women packing gift boxes for men in the trenches, Eid Nowruz in a Persian home, a Charlottetown Hanukkah with Kafka, Christmas in a First Nation community, a Scottish-Islander’s New Year’s traditions, and a Japanese visitor baking yuletide cookies. Holidays distill the richness and poignancy of our lives, and these stories let us savour the warmth, longings, and epiphanies of humanity within the wintry chill.