Monday, December 22, 2008

Welcome to the Winter Solstice

Traditionally fires were kept burning through the longest night of the year which is tonight- the midwinter Solstice unless you are not in the UK or Ireland. It is known as DōngZhì, Yule, Şabe Cele/Yalda, Soyal, Şeva Zistanê, Solar New Year, Longest Night
I don't have a fire sadly but i will have a candle going all night.

Astronomically tonight marks the beginning of shortening nights and lengthening days. Great news.

It is cloudy here but tonight look out your window (or even better-go outside in the northern sky that is) and find the three stars in Orion's Belt. They should align with the brightest star in the eastern sky Sirius to show where the Sun will rise in the morning after winter solstice.

The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January and April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.

The winter solstice occurs at the instant when the Sun's position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observers hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the event of the winter solstice occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the northern hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 23 in the southern hemisphere, during either the shortest day or the longest night of the year, which is not to be confused with the darkest day or night or the day with the earliest sunset or latest sunrise.

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