Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice Day

Today is officially the shortest day of the year.

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26'. Though the Winter Solstice lasts an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midwinter to refer to the day on which it occurs. For most people in the high latitudes this is commonly known as the shortest day and the sun's daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.

Watching the sun rise across the eastern sky over the course of the year is fascinating. This morning it seems to rise almost from the south east.

A lovely morning sky.

Welcome to Winter!

In ancient Greece there were celebrations at this time of year.

The exclusively female midwinter ritual, Lenaea or Lenaia, was the Festival of the Wild Women. In the forest, a man or bull representing the god Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten by Maenads. Later in the ritual a baby, representing Dionysus reborn, was presented.

Lenaion, the first month of the Delian calendar, derived its name from the festival's name. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by that of a goat, and the women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth. Wine miracles were performed by the priests, in which priests would seal water or juice in a room overnight and the next day they would have turned into wine. The miracle was said to have been performed by Dionysus and the Lenaians.

By the 5th century BCE the ritual had become a Gamelion festival for theatrical competitions, often held in Athens in the Lenaion theater.


And so. I am returned from Chicago and parts West. It's good to be back home though I feel a bit of a fish out of water. I am not nearly "up to speed" for this holiday.

Fortunately I don't have to do too much preparation as we are graciously invited to spend Christmas dinner with our good friends. (all I have to bring is a cheesecake!) We're also covered for Boxing Day and will be spending a lovely afternoon with good friends and their family members. (I get to bring quiches...)

I am still assimilating all the changes of the last couple of months. I am still a bit out of synch with "my world" whatever that may be!

Alls well that ends well though, and it's great to be home.

[I include a selection of traditional soothing Christmas music to inspire a holiday feeling.....]

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