On The Winter Solstice

winter solstice

Anyone who knows me or knows anything about me knows how much I love stories.

And, I love finding out new things that I can weave into stories. Another thing I love is the beginning of winter, which is marked by the winter solstice. And, I just learned about a few historical events that happened on the winter solstice.

A Time Of Auspicious Events

I did not know this, but the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth on the winter solstice, December 21, 1620. I can only imagine how cold and dreary it must have been. Yet the excitement at starting life over in a completely new land must have been enough to counter the dreariness. I also learned that on the same day in 1898 radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie, which was the beginning of the atomic age. And, the Winter Solstice is also the day in 1968 of the launch of Apollo 8, the first manned moon launch.

It’s fascinating to know that such auspicious events happened on the Winter Solstice.

Instead Of The End Of The World A New Beginning

Some people thought that the Winter Solstice in 2012 would mark the end of the world. I am so happy that those people were wrong. I remember hearing back then why people thought that way. It was because it was as far as the Mayan calendar went. December 21, 2012 marked the end of a 5126-year cycle and people thought there would be some earth-shattering cataclysmic event.

A Good Excuse To Stay Up All Night

In some cultures it’s thought that dark spirits roam the earth on the day of the Winter Solstice. In these cultures, “people are encouraged to stay up most of the night in the company of one another, eating, talking, and sharing poetry and stories, in order to avoid any brushes with dark entities.” That sounds like a fun tradition, one that I would like to incorporate into my own life, but not because of the ‘dark spirits.’ It just seems like a viable excuse to stay up late and talk with good friends.

Meaning Of ‘Solstice’

The word ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’. The literal translation is “the standing still of the sun.” The word ‘solstice’ is used to describe both the beginning of winter and the beginning of summer. During the winter solstice the number of hours of daylight range from 11 hours in Hawaii to 0 hours in Northern Alaska.

A Time To Review The Past And Look To The Future

In the northern hemisphere where I live, the shortening of the days leading up to the winter solstice are also days leading up to our Christmas holiday season, the end of the year and the beginning of a New Year. It’s a time of gathering together with friends and family, a time of twinkling lights strung inside and outside of our homes as we literally crave the light! It’s a cozy time of reviewing the past year and contemplating things we might want to explore or do differently in the future.

As we draw near to those dear to us on the shortest day of the year, as the sun stands still, it is as though the universe is taking a deep breath and giving us humans an opportunity to bask in the miracle of it all. May you and your loved ones have a loving and magical holiday season.

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