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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Winter Solstice

I have friends for whom this time of year is not necessarily the most joyful. The syndrome Seasonal Affective Disorder "SAD" is now recognised in orthodox medicine and is likely to exacerbate considerably the symptoms of Clinical Depression.

It is therefore easy to imagine that in days of yore our hunting-gathering ancestors might have been terrified that the inexorably disappearing sunshine through the Autumn months would prove calamitous, never to return. Little wonder then that the moment that the sun reached its furthest point, during the longest night, thereby heralding another Spring after all, was cause for joyous celebration.

It was a time to lighten the darkest nights with candles and flames; to dip into the hidden stores of ale and cider; to sacrifice a fowl or two; to cook the richest of puddings and cakes; to make merry with dancing and seasonal song; to revere the holly and the ivy, the mistletoe, the yew tree and the pine, whose ever-greenery may have brought some comfort in the frosty morns; to exchange gifts and warm greetings; and of course to swear oaths of fertility to their loins, their sweethearts and their fields.

The exact time of the Winter Solstice is variable, but this year the point at which the sun is furthest is about 10.00pm on Thursday 21st December. The night of 21-22 December is therefore the longest. I shall commence my Solstice celebrations and rituals about now, you may follow them here, on my blog.

Of course, for a day or two on either side of the Solstice itself, the difference in day length is measurable only chronometrically. But a few days afterwards, typically about 25th December, the increment in the Sun's trajectory through the noontide sky becomes perceptible. That is when I shall indulge in the focus of my Solstice Celebrations. I shall joyfully embrace any fellow men and women who, for whatever reason, are also celebrating on that day.

Of course we must not wallow in "Northern Hemisphere Chauvinism" (thanks to Richard Dawkins for that term) and should have in mind our fellow bloggers Simon, Kiwi Nomad and Ju's Little Sister abiding "Down Under" and for whom this time signifies sunshine and the reaping of harvests.


Blogger simon said...

or fires, heat, sweat, flies.... it can be a SAD here too.. OR it can be the beach, golden sand, prawns and lobster....rock oysters!


The Ashes series.. (oops!)



Also to everone else! :o)

1:37 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

The only thing I get SAD about is that there are not enough hours in the day, no matter what time of year it is. The days do seem shorter in winter, though.

2:30 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Just wanted to let you know I have managed to restore my post re the prostitutes, but I'm afraid I was unable to save the comments, I believe you posted one and you may wonder what has happened to it - rest assured it has not been censored.

10:07 pm  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

As the good Dr. Wally would put it - "Uphill all the way to summer..."

11:48 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

It may be the Summer Solstice here..... but we haven't had much in the way of sunshine yet in the Manawatu. We live in hope....

I actually feel quite a feeling of kinship this year with the northern winter solstice, as I visited Newgrange while I was in Ireland. They gave us a little demo of what happens on the solstice using a light. I got a really good view, as the guide rescued me from the back on account of how short I was in the group, stuck behind a tall male!

6:55 am  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Kiwi Nomad - same in Auckland, of course. I've been working the night shift outside in the rain.

Fortunately the weekend was a little summer-ish.

9:24 am  
Anonymous Jill said...

And a happy Christmas to you too!

12:49 pm  
Blogger simon said...

jim..... THE ASHES! ho ho ho ;o)

1:04 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Yes, we had our first real frost today and it was so lovely, a proper covering which iced up the pond in my garden.

7:14 pm  
Anonymous Jill said...

I think you should mention your little Great Nephew was born on the Solstice!

1:25 pm  

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