And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The longest night

It always amazes me that there is a subset of people who like to celebrate the exact moment of things. I think these are the people who wait until the actual hour of their birth (waking up in the middle of the night if necessary) to wish themselves a happy birthday. There's now a thread of our culture that likes to celebrate the exact moment of the changing of the seasons (full moon, tide crest, etc). Like it's all that important. And that time that is given for the change of the seasons has little to do with events on Earth, but with our orbit around the sun. See, the time is the specific time of a specific event (like when certain stars appear out of the corona of the sun - or as our orbit finally takes us to a paralax when we can view the star without having our Sun in the way).

I blame the digital watches, myself.

Our ancestors didn't celebrate the exact time of the solstice (except maybe sunrise and sunset since solstice and equinox celebrations are distinctly tied to solar worship/observance as compared to moon worship/observance which typically predates a focus on the sun). To them, knowing kinda sorta around the right day was enough.

And so, welcome Solstice Night. A time to light candles and fires. To sing the songs of our ancestors. Drink fortified wine, beer, cider, whatever you want. Eat the stores of food. And celebrate.

May the coming of the sun bring us our warmth and life. May it bring prosperity, fecundity, and success.

Ring out those solstice bells.


Phiala said...

Medieval and Renaissance astronomy/astrology (no difference at that point) was all about knowing the exact moments of celestial events so that they could be related to terrestrial occurrences.

The average farmer might have been content with the night of the full moon, rather than the moment (so as to know when to plant the cabbages), but that wasn't the only approach.

Steve Buchheit said...

Hey Phiala, well, yes, but those were the very few and "exact moment" was an hour or two window (to be finalized by observation). But the ordinary people didn't have that level of precision.