Winter Solstice this year occurred at 5:02am on December 21. It is the instant in time when the North Pole is furthest from the sun. In our area, the sun was above the horizon for 9 and 1/2 hours.
Our building is a kind of Stonehenge, where you can tell the time of year by looking at the patterns of light and shadow. On the solstice, the sun rises only 28 degrees above the horizon at mid-day.
This is the time of year for ice and snow, although the coldest temperatures don’t happen until mid-January.
Our holly trees, such as these on our front plaza, really stand out this time of year.
At mid-day, the light comes directly out of the south.
A special treat this year was the rare alignment of Jupiter and Saturn on Dec. 21st, an event referred to as the “Christmas Star”. This is the closest alignment of the planets in nearly 400 years and resulted in a bright point of light in the night sky. This “Great Convergence” was visible to the naked eye while looking southwest just after sunset.
Many cultures have winter celebrations with their roots in the solstice.
Last Sunday, our service including a circle casting, where we thanked the East for air, the South for fire, the West for water, and the North for Earth. These rituals were developed to help the sun come back to us. Hail and Welcome!
As Reverend Amanda noted last Sunday, this is a time for letting go. We know that next year will be better.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a warm solstice. Welcome Yule!