December Reflections, Day 21 – Solstice Sunset

I am switching today and tomorrow’s prompts. Today was supposed to be “Numbers” and tomorrow “Solstice Sunset”, BUT since I am in the U.S., solstice is technically happening today, on the 21st. So, I’ll be back tomorrow with the “Numbers” prompt. It was a bit difficult to get a snap of today’s sunset, since today is a bit dreary. However, I was thinking about it and decided that it actually seems quite fitting to have a dark sunset on the Winter Solstice, no?

With that, let’s learn about the December Solstice, shall we?

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, December Solstice marks the longest night of the year and the first day of Winter. This astronomical phenomenon occurs annually, when the North Pole is tilted to it’s furthest degree from the sun, about 23.5 degrees off the vertical axis. This marks the Summer Solstice for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter Solstice actually occurs in June. December Solstice happens most frequently on December 21st, but it can happen anywhere between the 20th-23rd. It happens at the same moment for the entire planet. This year, it is happening on December 22nd at 04:49am GMT, which is December 21st at 10:49pm CST (hence the need to switch my prompts)

You will often hear Stonehenge mentioned in conversations about the December Solstice. This is because Stonehenge is mysteriously aligned precisely on the solstice sunset sight line (say that 5 times fast). It is believed that the monument, built somewhere from 3000 BCE to 2000 BCE, was a burial ground and, considering the careful alignment of the stones, that the Winter Solstice must have had some religious significance to the people responsible for its construction.

Solstice is celebrated around the world by many different groups of people, with a wide variety of folklore and beliefs around the event. No matter your cultural ties or religious affiliation, Winter Solstice is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the coming season and the lengthening days.

So, today, I wish you a very happy Solstice, friends. I hope that as the days to follow lengthen, so too does your capacity for joy and peace expand.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

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