Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy December Solstice 2011!

As I have written previously, The Winter Solstice: Where Physics Meets Culture for All, I find the December Solstice an interesting event and celebration. As a physical phenomenon of the earth's relationship to the sun, it is an event that affects all on earth, and has been marked in various ways by all cultures over time immemorial.

The time and date in the Gregorian Calendar on which the December Solstice falls varies with the naturally occurring phenomenon, and ranges between December 20th and 23rd each year. Of course, the point at which the shortest day/longest night in the Northern Hemisphere, or longest day/shortest night in the Southern Hemisphere occurs in different places at different times, depending on time zones.

This year, the December solstice has been occurring over December 21 and 22, so in the mid-range of the usual span of time. Winter has officially begun, as have the group of celebrations that mark this time before the renewal of Spring. All have in common a celebration of light, and the resilience of nature and the human spirit when faced with physical challenges to mind, body, and spirit. Of the ones that come most readily to mind, Hanukah, Christmas, New Year, and the Solstice, the latter is the one that is most universally embracing, even in the diversity of its global celebrations.

Ancient Egyptian depiction of 3 gods at the divine re-birth of the sun on 26 Khoiak (December 22)

On a more personal note, my father was a "Solstice baby", born December 20. This made him even more difficult to buy for, trying to think of 2 presents, one for his birthday, and one for Christmas. He finally stopped protesting not to get him anything, or merely not to worry about what we got him, and succumbed to the pressure of 3 united women not to buy himself anything from September on--just to make do, until we could buy the presents, and then make up for whatever needs hadn't been addressed on the Boxing Day sales.

As an adult, the December Solstice has been the time I often head to the family home for the holidays, in order to celebrate Dad's birthday too. Two years ago I arrived home to find he was seriously ill, and instead of spending the planned 10 days, I spent almost 4 months at home, helping him and the family (and myself) through his illness, and death.

Last year, I was still in an earlier phase of grieving, and so the Winter Solstice, as welcome as it always is for marking the beginning of longer days of sunlight to come, was tinged with sadness. This year, I have been much better, though still sadly noting his absence, as is to be expected at this phase of grieving.

Sunrise on Stonehenge December 22. 2011, a clear sunny solstice is a good omen.

I mention this more personal aspect, as these types of sadnesses tend to rebound at holiday times, and in the physically dark days of winter. More importantly, I wanted to remind others that normal grieving feels awful, but is eased appropriately with time, and sadnesses are lightened by the sun and the change of seasons marking time. This year, we will honor my Dad's memory by going out in the next few days to the same restaurant we would have gone to for his birthday celebration, and remember his joy at being there, and be joyous as he would have wished.

For the Winter Solstice itself, I have been buying traditional greenery like holly branches, lighting candles, and planning charitable Christmas gifts, as well as those for family. How about you?

To All,

A Wonderful December Soltice,

filled with days of light and joy!

Related Posts:
The Winter Solstice: Where Physics Meets Culture for All
The December (Winter/Summer) Solstice 2010 with a Total Eclipse of the Moon

December Solstice 2011-Celebration at Stonehenge-From "The winter solstice, a split second on Earth’s analog clock"

1 comment:

Susanne said...

It's nice to read about your dad. Thanks for sharing this and I hope you enjoy yourself as you celebrate his memory and impact on your lives.


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