I wanted to make a solstice page, but then I saw Candlegrove.
Nothing can compare to this informative and readable site,
which covers the solstice and related festivals and traditions
in comfortable prose and design.
However, I do feel obligated to include a short scientific explanation,
some personal observations and a few questions.
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year (near December 22) in the
northern hemisphere, when the sun is farthest south. In the southern hemisphere,
the winter and summer solstices are exchanged so that their winter solstice is the
day on which the sun is farthest north. Winter Solstice marks the first day of
the season of winter. The declination of the sun on the (northern) winter
solstice is known as the Tropic of Capricorn (-23° 27'). Those familiar with
astrology will recognize this date as the beginning of that sign. To convert to U.S.
Eastern Standard Time, subtract 5 hours, so the winter solstice of 1997
occurs on December 21 at 15:07 (3:07 p.m.) EST.
Middle Europe Time is +1, so 21:07 will be the time when the sun
is farthest away from me here in Switzerland.
Date and Universal Time of upcoming Winter Solstices
12/22/2003 -- 07:04
12/21/2004 -- 12:42
12/21/2005 -- 18:35
12/22/2006 -- 00:22
12/22/2007 -- 06:08
12/21/2008 -- 12:04
12/21/2009 -- 17:47
These dates and times are from the U.S. Naval Observatory.
Winter Solstice is, for me, the ultimate holiday. It is Christmas, New Year's and my birthday all rolled into one. This day signifies things I am most thankful for--life, lengthening of days, a new beginning. It's the cyclical end/beginning represented by 0 (the Fool).
Regardless of the calendar systems mankind creates, and the days he chooses to honor, the steady timepiece of the sky shows us the wisdom of the Creator and the perfection of Creation. Mankind has so cluttered his Vision with politics, hype (and counter-hype) and commercialism, he loses sight of Simple Bliss.
I will not become Romanized! I will not adopt the corporate identity!
Human holidays are subjective--the turning of the Wheel is not. Solstice is solstice all over the world.
I give joyful thanks and praises to for the return of the Sun!
Why are there 360 degrees in a circle?
What is the significance between Jesus being resurrected after three days (Easter), and Christmas being three days after the Winter Solstice?
Does the Fool's Journey begin on the solstice? Find out where he'll be in Tarot All Year.
"Has your year got off to a bad start?" asked an article in New Scientist magazine. "Not to worry, there are at least 14 other new years around the world left to choose from." Actually, only the countries that have adopted the Gregorian calendar count January 1 as the first day of the year. It was Julius Caesar who, in 46 B.C.E., decided that the calendar year would begin on January 1, and this was retained when Pope Gregory revised the calendar in 1582. As different cultures developed their own calendar systems, at least 26 different New Year's Days cropped up. Of those that remain today, the Chinese system is the oldest. For them, the New Year starts this year on February 7. The Jewish New Year will fall on October 2. The Muslim calendar, a totally lunar one, will have its own date as well-May 8. [up]
Awake! January 22, 1997
Sir Isaac Newton relates that "all nations, before the just length of the solar year was known, reckoned months by the course of the moon, and years by the return of winter and summer, spring and autumn; and in making calendars for their festivals, they reckoned thirty days to a lunar month, and twelve lunar months to a year, taking the nearest round numbers, whence came the division of the ecliptic into 360 degrees." [up]
Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God
If our earth were located much farther away from our sun we would freeze like the planet Mars. If it were much closer to the sun then we would be burned up like the hot surface of Mercury or the 860-degree temperature on Venus. If the magnetic forces within our planet were stronger or weaker, life could not exist. If our earth did not revolve every twenty-four hours then one-half of the planet would be in permanent darkness without vegetation. Meanwhile, if the earth did not revolve, the other side of the planet would be an uninhabitable desert as it suffered from the overwhelming heat of permanent exposure to the sun. If our earth were not tilted at twenty-three degrees, we would not have the seasonal variation that produces the incredible abundance of crops that feed our planet's huge population. Without the twenty-three degree tilt, less than half of the present land used for cultivation of crops would grow vegetables. Our moon produces the tides that continually replenish the oceans with oxygen allowing the fish to breathe. If the earth were significantly smaller, the lessened gravity would be incapable of holding the atmosphere that is essential for breathing. A much thinner atmosphere would provide no protection from the 25,000 meteors that burn up in the atmosphere over the earth every day. In addition, a thinner atmosphere would be incapable of retaining the higher temperatures required for human and animal life to exist. If our planet earth were twice as large, the effect of increased gravity would make everything on the planet's surface weigh eight times what it weighs today. This increased weight would destroy many forms of animal and human life. [up]
Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God