winter solstice

December 21, 2009

At 5:47 this evening, the Northern hemisphere of the Earth will reach its maximum tilt away from the sun and slowly start tilting back towards the sun. In other words, the days will get shorter until 5:47 pm and then start to get longer again. The sunlight is, ever so slowly, coming back.

This phenomenon was very important to people long ago who depended on the sun in a very direct way. (Obviously, we still entirely depend on the sun, but we like to pretend that we don’t). Festivals were created, gods were praised and fires were burned to entice the sun to come back. Music, and especially the drum, was often an important part of these celebrations.

Many major religions have adopted the solstice (both summer and winter) as dates for their major celebrations. The most famous being Christmas and Easter for Christians and Hanukkah for Jews. I will drum this evening to welcome the sun back into my life (because sunlight is critical for my personal outlook on life). Here’s to many sunny days this winter. Cheers. Happy Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate in honour of the sun.

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