The Darkest Day of the Year

December 21, 2009 at 11:03 am (Uncategorized)

Happy Winter.  Today officially marks the first day of this season and it also happens to be the shortest, darkest day of the year.  There will be minimal sunlight today and more darkness than you can imagine.  However, if you live in a cold midwest state like me, chances are you haven’t really seen sunlight lately anyway and you might not notice its lack of shine today.  Here’s a picture to help all of us cope:

Ah, I feel better already.  Of course, the palm trees that let me pretend I’m on vacation help.

Did you know “solstice” is derived from the Latin phrase, “sun stands still”?  It’s appropriately named because, after months of growing shorter and lower since the summer solstice, the sun’s arc through the sky appears to stabilize, with the sun seeming to rise and set in the same two places for several days.  After today, the days will lengthen until the summer solstice, on June 21.  So the plus side of this whole darkest, shortest day of the year thing is that the days will finally start to get longer here soon.  Of course, it’s right in time for the coldest, crappiest months of the winter.  This allows us to realize that there is more daylight but lament the fact that we cannot really go out and enjoy it because temperatures will hover around zero degrees until May.  It’s Mother Nature’s way of kicking us while we’re down.

Would you like to hear an interesting anecdote?  You’re reading my blog, so of course you would.  A few years ago I went to a pagan solstice celebration, which took place in the summer and in the woods.  Yes, this was while I lived in Bloomington.  I was sort of seeing this woman who was in an open relationship (that’s another topic for another day) and she invited me along with her and some of her friends.  Everyone brought a dish and we had a potluck style feast, complete with many bottles of wine and mead.  We also stood around in a circle, holding hands and making sure nature knew we were offering said food and drink to the earth.  There were a few people wearing capes and one guy had a dagger.  I’m not making this up.  There were handouts with prayers and songs that we as a group sang and prayed.  The spiritual aspect of everything lasted for probably two hours…it might not have been quite that long, but I was ravenous and hadn’t been expecting a huge prayer session before I got to eat.  It sure felt like two hours.  Anyway, the whole experience was very interesting, as I had never been a part of any pagan rituals before.  From an anthropological standpoint, I was fascinated.  From every other standpoint, I was hungry and sick of standing around.  Also, the boyfriend of the girl I was sort of dating showed up, so then I just felt awkward.  Good thing it was the longest day of the year.  Not so coincidentally, that was the last time I hung around that particular female.

So today will be over before you know it, and then science tells us the days will start getting longer.  I won’t be satisfied until they’re so long that it’s daylight until bedtime but I guess at this point I’ll take what I can get.  And while I might not be participating in any pagan events in the woods this year, you can rest assured that I’ll have a glass of wine tonight in honor of the promise of more sunlight in the days to come.

**If you want to read more about Solstice, here’s this link.  It gave me valuable information which I copied and pasted into the second paragraph of this blog!

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