Today is the day of
the Winter Solstice. At 3:03 PM (Pacific time) the sun will be at its lowest and
closest point to Earth.
The word solstice
is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to
stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in
declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun's path (as
seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction.
Once upon a time,
people celebrated the 'death' of the old sun and the 'birth' of a new
sun that would grow and lengthen the days filled with warmth and
crops. They traveled the village singing songs to their neighbors and
were rewarded with cider-punch called 'wassail,' shortbread cookies,
and cakes filled with fruits and nuts. The honored few were treated
to a seat by the hearth and warmed with heat from the 'Yule log.'
From the gloom of
the storm and the weight of the darkness comes the promise of light,
love, and prosperity.