We did it! We survived!
December 21…the Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere)…the longest night of the year. It’s also called “Midwinter” (which seems odd, since winter is just ramping up, and, according to the astronomical calendar, today is only the initial day of the cold season).
Historically, the Iranians called it “Yalda Night”; the Druids, “Yule”, “Mother Night” and “Alban Arthan” meaning, “The Light of Arthur” (based on the legend of King Arthur). A ceremony commemorating the day is still held at Stonehenge each year. The ancient Mayans believed in offering blood sacrifices to the sun god to placate him into returning his light to the people. Fortunately, we don’t take things to that extreme these days (though in the darkest days of winter, I may have considered pricking a finger or something). 😝
The dictionary defines “solstice” as, “a furthest, or culminating point, a turning point.” The word derived from Latin is loosely translated as, “the sun stands still”. Interestingly enough (according to one of my favorite apps) the shortest amount of daylight doesn’t take place only today, it also occurs for several days surrounding the Solstice. This makes sense as the sun’s southward track has to stop and then reverse itself. Science confirms the Winter Solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly point, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. This is as opposed to its summer counterpart—when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer (if you’re living in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are, obviously, switched).
Today is, by far, one of my favorite days of the year! It may seem strange, for someone who struggles with depression caused by lack of daylight, to be so excited about the day of the year that offers the least light. But that’s why it’s worth celebrating, we’ve made it! We’re no longer toiling to reach the end of a long, dark tunnel (as daylight wanes). Starting tomorrow, we’re basking in the warm glow of the light at the end of that tunnel (as the days will now begin to grow longer). This year, the full moon also falls around the Solstice, so that will help “lighten” the mood a bit as well!
This is what negotiating a life with anxiety and depression looks like. It’s all about successfully mitigating the symptoms of these disorders by seeking out the small blips of “light”–whatever gives us a sense of peace and happiness–that are always present, even in the darkest moments.
In case you were wondering, yes, I find the Summer Solstice—or day with the longest amount of daylight—to be a bit depressing. The reason being, after that day we begin our prolonged trek into darkness. So, to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, you have my sympathies today, as you now commence your long slog to “the Shortest Day”…but, we’ve obliged you all long enough, we’re taking our daylight back! 😉😎
This is my final post for 2018, as I’ll be spending the remainder of the year busy with holiday festivities. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and I’ll leave you with this happy note…get out there and embrace the, ever-lengthening, DAYLIGHT because…