Happy winter solstice, everyone! As you doubtless already know, today is the shortest and darkest day of the year (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere). Ancient people, who were keen observers of the skies even without high technology, knew this date and its significance very well. It’s no surprise that so many holidays which fall around this time of year involve the ceremonial kindling of light, whether it’s lights on a Christmas tree, Yule logs burning on the hearth, flames on a menorah, the lamps of Diwali, the lanterns of Loy Krathong, or even the humanist celebration of HumanLight.
Whatever religious or cultural veneers have been laid on top of them, all these days ultimately commemorate the turning of the seasons and look forward to the sun’s return. Even in a technologically advanced global society, it seems these ancient agricultural rhythms still resonate within us. Some people worry that the loss of religion would mean the loss of community and kinship, but with or without our myths, human beings will always find reasons to come together, be merry and celebrate. That’s what I intend to do these next few days, and I hope your solstice season is full of warmth, joy and good company. Be well!
Image credit: Lunar eclipse visible from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories of Canada, winter solstice 2010. Photo via savillent.