Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Shortest day of the year


Happy winter solstice!!! The day of longest night. Actually, solstice means 'standing still'. The sun makes it's lowest arc of the year and offically occurred at 10:35 a.m. today. The roots of winter solstice come from the ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with anxious vigil or antic celebrations. Seems like we're still doing that, especially in these next few days. Actually, many of our modern day 'Christmas traditions' come from old solstice traditions. Things like Christmas trees, mistletoe, the Yule log, and especially wreaths. Wreaths have been made for thousands of years to symbolize the wheel of the year and the completion of another cycle. They were traditionally made of holly (representing female) and ivy (representing male).

As little as we pay attention to things like the path of the sun today, it's amazing to think that ancient civilizations pinpointed the date and time exactly and even built fantastic architectural feats to commemorate and measure the two solstices. Stonehenge of course is the most famous, representing an exact marker for both the winter and summer solstices.






And then there is Newgrange in Ireland, which is approximately 5,000 years old (older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids) and is built to accept a shaft of light deep in it's central chamber at dawn of the winter solstice. Pretty cool to think about.






I do think a great deal about day length and I do notice the sun's path across my little part of sky. I am elated that today is the halfway point. Every day from hear to June 21st we will add a little bit of light and gradually this pesky fatigue and overwhelming desire to hibernate will shed and come some early day in february, I will wake feeling like a new person. So tonight is a celebration of sorts. And I will walk the dogs this evening relishing the darkness, knowing that tomorrow it is on the ebb and light will again be slowly making it's way back in.

3 Comments:

Blogger EFB said...

Very interesting. It's definitely a relief to know every day will bring more and more light. The winter feels long already.

2:22 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Oh I know and it will get worse after the holidays. January is the longest month of the year.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Judith said...

Happy Winter Solstice to you, Meredith! We can dance tomorrow realizing the light will be with us a little bit longer! Love your post.

9:31 PM  

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