🎵 It’s the most…wonderful…DAY…of the year!!! 🎶 You might be thinking I must be talking about Christmas, right?…you would be wrong! 😉 Today is the Winter Solstice ya’ll! (…in the Northern Hemisphere.) It is one of my ABSOLUTE, MOST FAVORITE days of the entire year!
You may ask yourself, “Self, why would someone who struggles with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) be happy about the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight?” That’s simple! Starting tomorrow…THE DAYS START GETTING LONGER AGAIN!!! WHOO HOO!!! WE MADE IT!!! 🌞 We did it! We survived!
Less sunlight in the winter
It never ceases to amaze me, the first of November arrives and the time change hits, and every year it feels like it will be an ETERNITY until the days start getting longer again. But then you slowly plod through the first week…and then the second…and then it’s the week before Thanksgiving (so things are starting to perk up a bit, I always enjoy Thanksgiving!)…and then the Christmas season is in full swing! Between decorating the house, shopping for gifts, and singing carols, who has time to feel down? Then before you know it, the Solstice is here again (and it usually arrives more quickly than I expected!)
The first few weeks of January are always a bit rough, as well. Everybody takes their Christmas lights down, so their twinkling goodness is no longer there to light up those long, dark nights…the joy of the Christmas season is over, and now you’re just stuck with the COLD! 😨 But, at least the days start getting longer by that point…and the first day it’s still reasonably light out at 5 pm, you know you’ve conquered another LONG, DARK season. 💪
The history of the Winter Solstice
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).
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 solstices are, obviously, switched).
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 this 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.
I LOVE the Winter Solstice!
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 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 get out there and enjoy our ever-increasing amounts of daylight! 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! It’s our turn to enjoy the light because…
Do you have any feelings regarding the shortest day of the year? Tell me about them in the comments!
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