The Winter Solstice

23 12 2007

Congratulations! If you live in the northern hemisphere, Central Standard Time, you’re only three hours from completing the first of the three shortest days of the year. We’ll soon see our daylight time increasing in small increments, moving us toward spring and the first crocus popping up through the mud and snow.

Despite the commercial crush of the Christmas season and its alleged focus on the birth of Jesus, it’s actually just the Christian assimilation of pagan ceremonies celebrating the end of the long, dark days and hope for survival until the next growing season. As a matter of fact, Stonehenge in England and New Grange in Ireland are believed to have been erected during the late Stone Age or early Bronze Age in recognition of the solstice. That means the pagan heathens beat the pope to this holiday by 4,000 years, give or take.  This would, no doubt, be an unpopular observation in most of Kansas, but I think I can get away with it in Lawrence.

You’ve no doubt been wondering what makes the solstice the shortest day(s). Well, if you’re living, as I do, in the northern hemisphere, it’s simply that the earth’s position relative to the sun is such that the sun is at its greatest distance from us on the southern side of the equator. That doesn’t seem like a very clear explanation, but that’s why we have public libraries and Google. I’m only here to comment.

So, my advice is to shake off that Christmas funk, build a big bonfire in your front yard, roast a beast on a spit, drink a little too much and then dance naked around the flames and wait for your neighbors to call the cops.

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One response

22 04 2008
sarsen56

Members of the WordPress community who are interested in Stonehenge may like to see: http://www.sarsen56.wordpress.com

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