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The Magic of the Winter Solstice

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Morning SunThe Winter Solstice this year will occur precisely at 12/22/2015 at 4:48 am.  The “magic” is that this is the one day of the year that has either the shortest (northern hemisphere) or longest (southern hemisphere) amounts of sunlight depending on the hemisphere in which you live.  When I go to work in the morning, I turn off the lights as I leave and beginning around September, I notice that each morning it gets darker and darker as I leave at the same time.  The same thing in reverse when I leave for work each morning after the Winter Solstice passes.

Note: Daylight Saving Time starts on March 13th and ends in November.  March 20, 2016 will be the spring equinox.  March 13th will be the shortest day of the year because we will move our clocks forward one hour, thereby chipping off one hour from the 24 hour day.

I have always been mesmerized by the stars and moon and therefore, did some fun fact finding Magic Hatresearch to find out why although there are four seasons, why the start of only two of them are called “solstices” and the other two are called “equinoxes”.  There truly is magic in the stars: think of how many people make a wish on the stars, and all the songs about the stars (combined, you get “When You Wish Upon a Star”), Hawaiians used the stars, planets, and the moon as natural compasses to navigate from island to island, and if you want to create your own magic star map and have some fun of your own, check out this article from Mentalfloss.

Solstices and equinoxes were vital to ancient people for regulating their calendars.  Although ancient civilizations did not have the scientific understanding of why the sun, moon, and stars were at certain positions at set times throughout the year, they learned to use those times of the year to survive.  They knew that when the sun and stars were in certain positions, to either move their camps or to stay in one location.  They knew when to plant their crops and when hunting would be more successful.

Equinox is when the sun’s center remains the exact same both above and below the horizon and the Earth’s tilt is neither toward nor away from the sun, thereby making the hours of sunlight or darkness equal.  Equinoxes occur in March and September.

Solstice is the point at which the sun reverses direction, which causes either longer or shorter hours of daylight and darkness.  Solstices occur in June and December.

Ancient cultures understood the importance of how the sky played a critical role in their survival.  For example, although no one knows for certain why Stonehenge was built approximately 5,000 years ago, and although there are myriads of guesses, one thing that cannot be overlooked is the alignment of those 85 – 165 stones the sunlight at sunrise points perfectly into one side (depending on the season), into the center, and out the other side.  Additionally, the ridges found throughout Stonehenge point at mid-winter sunset and mid-summer sunrise.  People of the era killed most of their livestock in the winter, so they did not have to feed them, as food was scarcer during the winter months than any other time of year.  In the spring, the alignment again goes directly across and that was when many ancients planted crops.

ZodiacThe sun passes by the same stars of the zodiac each year.  That is another area that has always interested me.  Although I do not live my life by what my zodiac sign suggests might happen, I have discovered that many generalities are distinctly different between people in various astrology signs.  There is clearly something to all of this so I did some fun fact finding research about zodiac signs and characteristics that are pretty much the same for different astrology signs.  Then I began to think about people that I know whose birthdays are in the different astrology signs and I found it intriguing how so many of the characteristics of the given astrology signs matched so many of the characteristics of the people I know.  However, that research is for another article.

I would really like it if you would leave a comment about the solstices or equinoxes or even astrology signs.  It might make for lively conversations because there are so many different “takes” about all 3 topics

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