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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy First Day of Winter

"Every winter, When the great sun has turned his face away, The earth goes down into a vale of grief, And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables, Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay, Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses." ~ Charles Kingsley, Saint's Tragedy (act III, sc. 1)

This is it, kids. The days start getting longer again from here. Happy Winter Solstice! For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this astronomical event means that tonight will be the longest night of the year. To quote wikipedia: "Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen."

I don't practice animal husbandry, or plant crops or store food for winter (although maybe that isn't such a bad idea these days), but I can appreciate why it was so significant to have practices of observing this day for our ancestors. Basically, if you didn't understand the seasons, you didn't survive, and neither did your family or your tribe. That information bears honoring and remembering through future generations.

Aside from the astronomical event, I enjoyed reading about the myriad of Winter Celebrations that occur all around the world at this time of year, as so many cultures attach significance to this happening. And an informative classification of the major world's religions can be found here.

I'm not a religious person. At this time of year, I cannot help but consider all of the beliefs that are held around the world. My main wish for all is of tolerance, if we still decide to associate any particular philosophical or religious aspect to this day or time of year.


Aside from that, there are some wicked cool photos in the Flickr Commons, if you've never visited yet. The Flickr Commons is a public archive of photography, with an amazing array of images on many, many subjects. I just typed in "winter" and came up with these two gems.

What captures me about old photos is the humanity of them. Even more than a painting, we truly see ourselves in our predecessors. People are people. No matter where and when they live.

"For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us." ~ Donald Williams, former NASA astronaut, who has logged a total of 287 hours and 35 minutes in space


paris parfait December 21, 2008 at 10:58 AM  

Love that quote with which you began the post - and these great photos and flashback to another era. As for the astronaut's quote, I'm always writing my own version of that philosophy about politics - what unites us is stronger than what divides us. Even the Arabs and Israelis know that. I guess knowing it and putting it into practice are two different things. Sigh.

Happy Winter Solstice! xoxox

Iasa December 21, 2008 at 11:12 AM  

Love the pictures. I can't keep a hat on walking down the hall much less careening down a hill on a sled.

Dwacon® December 21, 2008 at 11:25 AM  

I can imagine people skiing down the I-5...

Gillian December 21, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

Oh goodie, winter solstice always brings me some vivid, lucid dreams featuring a few odd characters-I can't wait!! ;)
That combined with the four feet of snow in my backyard, this day is turning out to be a real treat.
Happy holidays to you Tango!! xoxoxo

Char December 21, 2008 at 12:12 PM  

I love winter solstice with the knowledge that the sun is returning in tiny bits...I miss the sun.

A Cuban In London December 21, 2008 at 12:20 PM  

Happy Winter Solstice to you, too!

Greetings from London.

Paul Pincus December 21, 2008 at 2:23 PM  

gorgeous images and post!

julochka December 21, 2008 at 2:39 PM  

happy winter solstice to you! for me, it means moving away from these dark, dark days towards the light. we had a little candlelight ceremony and may have called upon a nordic god or two. i think they're the best ones (at the moment). :-)

C. Bowie Photography December 21, 2008 at 3:15 PM  

Love this time of year!!

Emily December 21, 2008 at 3:27 PM  

I love the old photographs!

Yoli December 21, 2008 at 3:43 PM  

The quote, the photographs, you make winter solstice a very happy occassion! Wishing you much happiness. I wish I could have a little bit of snow to feel the season. It is 80 degrees here...ugh.

namastenancy December 21, 2008 at 5:22 PM  

I love the Solstice points and have posted one of my favorite pieces up on my blog. I can almost feel the Earth turning.

mrs. sarah ott December 21, 2008 at 7:38 PM  

we had almost 5 hours of daylight today. but solstice is the good news. the sun will tack on a few extra minutes for our enjoyment; luring us into the hope of spring. : ) i'm easily baited

Paris Atelier December 21, 2008 at 10:19 PM  

HaHa! I love the second photo! It's almost as though I am looking at my family have a in the snow! This is too much for me!

Mary-Laure December 22, 2008 at 10:32 PM  

Oh dear, what fabulous, funny old pictures you found for us!