Celebrating the Winter Solstice
Break out the sweaters, pour a hot drink, and get some logs for the fireplace, because winter is here! Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of the winter season.
The winter solstice, also known as midwinter and Yule, always falls in December, though the date slightly varies each year. It marks the “astronomical” start of winter, even though winter is meteorologically considered to begin on December 1st.
What is the Winter Solstice?
During the winter solstice, the sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn, essentially right across the middle of Australia. When the sun is in this position, the Northern hemisphere tilts 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This brings earlier darkness to the Northern hemisphere during the winter solstice. But in the southern hemisphere, the winter solstice actually has the opposite effect, bringing a “midnight sun” that visibly shines for a 24-hour period.
The winter solstice has fascinated humanity since before science was able to explain this phenomenon. Ancient structures, like Newgrange in Ireland and the Karnak Temples in Egypt, align with the winter solstice, showing that it was a revered time. In early European society, the solstice was celebrated with feasting, as the cattle needed to be slaughtered before the long winter. The winter solstice was also a particularly special time for early Swedish and Germanic people, who celebrated with sacrifices. Today, the winter solstice is still observed by pagans, many of whom flock to solstice-aligned monuments.
The Impact of Astrology
But for most people, the winter solstice is simply a short day and a very long night. According to an astrologer in London, though, we should be paying attention to this year’s solstice. He claims that the winter solstice will bring bad luck, because the sun’s path will directly align with Saturn for the first time since 1664. He thinks this will result in negativity, particularly impatience and insubordination.
Do you believe that astrology influences the way we behave? Regardless of what you believe, there is one important thing you should keep in mind during today’s winter solstice: since it will be dark earlier, remember to drive carefully! Darkness decreases visibility, so turn your lights on, drive cautiously, and watch out for pedestrians.
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