Happy Winter Solstice

Radio carbon dating shows that construction of Stonehenge began in about 3100 BC and was completed around 1600 BC. The alignment of the stones suggests that it was used to commemmorate the Winter and Summer solstices. Photo by Frederic Vincent courtesy of Wikimedia, distributed under a Creative Commons 2.0 ShareAlike license.

TONIGHT AT 1:08 EASTERN STANDARD TIME, the sun will be at its furthest distance from the Northern Hemisphere, and we here above the equator will be in the midpoint of the longest night of the year. This is Winter Solstice, which humans have marked in one fashion or another for some 7,000 years. Traditionally this is a time when humans drive away the dark by lighting candles and keeping a Yule log burning all night.

This is the black depth of the year
in which the seasons, circling near,
are pulled into the vortex; here
the bonfires of midwinter burn.

The quickening spirits of the Spring
whirl round their bright bewildering,
and with the energies they bring
we conjure up the sun's return.

—British-Canadian poet Robin Skelton

However much we may be divided by nationality, ideology, or religion, the Winter Solstice reminds us that we are one species sharing one planet. I wish you light on this long, dark night.

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