This year’s winter solstice will occur at 12:30 am on December 22 kicking off the official start of winter in the northern hemisphere. Besides being the shortest day of the year, the annual winter solstice also marks the start of a long progression towards summer, with days becoming increasingly longer until the summer solstice in June. This is my favorite day of the year for that reason. It marks to me the end of darkness and the welcoming of the longer days to come. The winter solstice has long played a role in man’s affairs, especially in the religious ones. According to Chiff.com, ancient Romans celebrated the Feast of Saturnalia in the days surrounding the December solstice and the while the Feast of Juul was observed in pre-Christian Scandinavia. Christianity coopted the pagan holidays, particularly this one, in order to gain new converts. Christmas’ origin stems more from a pagan holiday than a Christian one. If I’m not mistaken, even the Christian churches place Christ’s birthday in March. This year’s solstice is uneventful compared to last year’s total lunar eclipse, and the 2012 solstice that intersects with the end of the Mayan calendar, a time which some speculate will be the end of the world, particularly with those filmmakers that live in Hollywood. Enjoy the winter solstice; find your own way to celebrate it. I know I will.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis