Winter Solstice Celebrations
Next week is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and one of the most religiously significant events of the natural world. Long ago, well before our ancestors created written records, we lived more closely aligned with nature. Before the advent of clocks and electricity you got up with the sunrise and for the most part went to bed with its setting.
Arising with the morning Sun every day one cannot help but observe that the daily ratio of daylight to night varies through the course of the yearly cycle. During the periods of shorting daylight, with the scarcity of food and warmth that ate autumn brings, it is easy to attach a spiritual significance to the annual solar cycle and the return of the Sun.
The turning point when the days stop getting shorter is a point of hope. Even though the full winter seasons lays ahead, it too will pass as the Sun’s rays grow in strength and duration. Individual people, kingdoms and empires all come and go, but the Sun is powerful beacon that always returns.
Discerning the Sun’s path and period helped motivate our development of mathematical and astronomical knowledge. Recognizing it as one star among the countless others in our universe helped us acknowledge the truly unique and precious thing that the occurrence of life here on Earth really is.
Celebrate the Winter Solstice this year by keeping a light or candle burning through the longest night. When you light it take a moment to ponder the clockwork like path of the Earth in orbit around our star, and the special significance the return of warmth and sunlight means to all life here on Earth.
photo credit Donald Macleod