Friday, 23 December 2011

The shortest day

The northern hemisphere's winter solstice fell yesterday, 22 December, this year. Usually it's on 21 December, but every four years it gets a day late and then is readjusted by the following year being a leaping one, apparently.
The oak trees still have some leaves...
I don't know why the winter solstice is regarded as the beginning of winter, while the summer solstice is celebrated as 'midsummer'. That makes the year - and the planet - seem lopsided. (Also, last weekend, I saw some frozen puddles; don't try to tell me that was autumn.) Let's say 'midwinter' instead.
...while the cherry trees are already preparing for spring
(this post includes a photo of the same thicket in full bloom last April)
This is the start of the new year, really, don't you think? At about 05h30 yesterday morning we reached our furthest point from the Sun and began to tilt back towards it. I feel like we should take more notice of the solstices. They're something that all people could celebrate together, rather than (or more likely in addition to) splitting up to observe all sorts of different winter holidays that probably started out as solstice parties anyway. 
That said, Christmas is so entrenched that I haven't yet managed to celebrate a midwinter properly. 21 or 22 December always seem to muddle past in a fog of last-minute gift making/buying; we miss the astronomical turn of the year because we're too busy with stuff. This year I had a bit of help from our inaccurate Gregorian calendar, so I did get my sewing finished yesterday evening, and the tree decorated, and then Boyfriend and I ate some pancakes with beeswax candles burning (and no TV or computer running). Perhaps that's enough to build on next time. I'd love to hear from anyone who celebrates the solstices in some way - how do you do it? I wish a belated Happy Midwinter (or Midsummer!) to you all!