Winter Solstice, by Tina Simson

Sunrise I know this is a common observation in the northeast but I drive to work in the dark and drive home in the dark. In my office suite, I have one of only two windows and I’m embarrassed a little because I’m the new kid. I find myself standing up occasionally these days, turning away from my work and looking into the sky. When the sun is actually out, my colleagues will stop by to talk about a myriad of things and just slowly walk toward the window. Conversation stops and we marvel for a moment at the light.

It’s instinct I think, to crave the light. This time of year we light the darkness with our strings of holiday lights around houses and trees. I wonder if somewhere inside us we are biologically aware that the year is about to tip and after this week, the days will begin to grow longer. I went searching for some Solstice info and found some great sights to share. The excerpts here are from www.Candlegrove.com

Many, many cultures the world over perform solstice ceremonies. At their root: an ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with anxious vigil or antic celebration.

Looking further into these celebrations, I was surprised just how diverse and yet how connected they all were. I liked the name of the ancient Greek celebration, Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women, until I read further that it involved human sacrifice.

No one’s really sure how long ago humans recognized the winter solstice and began heralding it as a turning point — the day that marks the return of the sun. One delightful little book written in 1948, 4,000 Years of Christmas, puts its theory right up in the title. The Mesopotamians were first, it claims, with a 12-day festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.

I would enjoy a festival designed to tame the monsters of chaos!

Great Neolithic structures were built to welcome the sun after the longest night of the year. People still flock by the thousands to these sites such as Stonehenge. For people intimately connected to the cycle of the seasons, the return of the sun was certainly time for celebration. A structure in Ireland, Newgrange predates Stonehenge by 100 years.

… not so many people are familiar with Newgrange, a beautiful megalithic site in Ireland. This huge circular stone structure is estimated to be 5,000 years old, older by centuries than Stonehenge, older than the Egyptian pyramids! It was built to receive a shaft of sunlight deep into its central chamber at dawn on winter solstice.

Through the wonders of the internet, you can watch the sunrise through the ancient hallways of Newgrange at www.Heritageireland.com

It will take place at 8:30 AM on December 21 and 22, GMT. That’s Greenwich Mean Time, 5 hours later than Eastern Standard Time in the US.

So I don’t know about you but, I’ll be up on Friday morning at 3:30 AM waiting for the promise of Spring.

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