Let it grow: Solstice means spring is on the way

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2005

There are many stories about this time of year. I enjoy the ancient stories about the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere the most.

The meaning of solstice is derived from two Latin words: &8220;sol&8221; meaning sun and &8220;sistere,&8221; to stand still.

Solstice: Sun-standing-still. For me, Winter Solstice means: &8220;It’s cold and dark.&8221;

This year, here in the Central time zone, the Winter Solstice occurs at 1820 hours (6:20 p.m.) on the 21st of December (I have found several websites that give slightly different official times).

That is not when the sun is farthest from the earth but when the sun appears over the Tropic of Capricorn which means that Antarctica gets its most daylight.

The earth is actually about 3 million miles closer to the sun this time of year than it is at the Summer Solstice.

I’ve read many stories about what was celebrated in ancient times for the shortest days of the year and how they relate to religions and why some rituals are still celebrated.

None of these rituals are accepted by everyone on earth. Some folks probably only notice that it’s just another workday and it’s getting closer to Christmas. I found a website that I think some of you may enjoy, www.religioustolerance.org/winter_solstice.htm.

It has some interesting history on the solstices and why we do certain things at certain times of the year.

What will you do on Dec. 21? I would be interested in reading your comments.

I will spend the &8220;Day of Solstice&8221; sitting beside the yule logs (though gas is up over 38 percent, I’ll use the gas yule logs … they burn longer), reading, looking at the trees and shrubs in the backyard, reading the seed catalogs, harvesting lettuce and mostly not answering the phones or watching for e-mails.

I will be waiting for this day to end; tomorrow … The days start getting longer. Spring is on the way.

As much as I love the beauty of the deciduous trees silhouetted against the purples and oranges on the western horizon in the late winter afternoons, I love light more. I’ve grown to appreciate this day as the birthday of longer days to come. I celebrate it as if it were the Independence Day for light.

From Dec. 21, start counting. There will only be 43 shopping days left until Groundhog Day. I will interview shop owners in Shelby County to make sure they will be open on Groundhog Day for your last minute gift shopping pandemonium.

Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Christmas.