Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Grandmother of all Seasonal Holidays

Winter Solstice occurs Tuesday the 21st at 23:38 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)...

photo from Wikimedia Commons

Winter Solstice is the moment the earth's axial tilt (23 degrees 26 minutes) points the furthest away from the Sun. Observed and celebrated since prehistoric times (as the ancient pagan or modern Wiccan holiday Yule, for example), in the northern hemisphere it marks the shortest day and longest night of the year and the official start of winter (thanks, we might not have noticed otherwise).  The Sun will rise and set as far south as it will for another year. There will be no Sunrise north of the Arctic Circle. These effects are reversed in the southern hemisphere. In recorded history Winter Solstice has been an auspicious holiday for many religions , most notably the Christian holiday Christmas, which has celebrated December 25th as the day of their savior's birth since the 4th century.