Monday, December 19, 2022

Blessings to Enjoy---End of the Year + Year's Shortest Day

No matter where in the world you might live, Dec. 21 is a terrific date.  It's the shortest day of the year north of the equator.  That's where I live and what I'll focus on in this post.

About the "Shortest date of the year."  Let me tell you:  we in my family look out of our windows toward the east and the south, at latitude 45, and it's been a kick to watch the sunrise (seen toward the east) moving further south every single day for months.  And the sunset has been rushing to set by 4:00 p.m., it seems, especially in previous weeks.  Now, on December 18, the sun hangs just above the roofline of buildings across the street and then, kerplunk, it sinks and it's absolutely dark by the time my family sits down for supper!  Incredible.

A bit of light to the east

Only 4 more days to go until the daylight begins to linger longer.  Thank the universe for that.

The ancient Brits had the right idea.  They (some of them at least) would gather at Stonehenge, a flattish meadow marked with huge rocks arranged in a pattern.  The pattern focused, on the shortest day of the year, upon two enormous upright rocks topped by a third horizontal rock forming a sort of gate.  Those standing to the west of the rock formation watched the sun rise ever so slightly further south on the day after the shortest day of the year.  Summary:  people have been celebrating the shortest day of the year for a very long time.  You can find photos and more information at Wikipedia, "Stonehenge."  Stonehenge - Wikipedia.  

Here in Oregon, the Siletz Indians gathered in their dance house on the shortest day of the year. They celebrated the beginning of less rain, longer days, warmer weather as winter weakened and spring gained strength.  Again, Wikipedia provides more detail.  Siletz - Wikipedia.

You might ponder Christmas lights and Christmas trees.  Christians celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25th annually, just three days after the shortest day of the year.  Think of it this way:  Jesus was born when darkness prevailed; he brought light.  Now, expand your definition of "darkness" from the shortest day of the year to the greatest spiritual darkness ever.  So amazing that such darkness could be overcome by the birth of an infant:  but there you have it.  Believe it, be thankful.

Summing up:  a blessing that the ending of the old year is succeeded immediately by the beginning of the new year.  Enjoy.  It's human, it's real, and people have been doing it for millennia--and for many good reasons.    

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