Happy Winter Solstice

Winter MoonA happy winter solstice! Today is the day in which we say "bah!" to the sun and it's southern travels to devoid us of long hours of light, and instead light large bonfires, sing yuletide carols, and have other frivosity. Actual Winter Solstice occurs at 18:35 GMT this year, and next year will be December 22 - upon which a certain occasion occurs. Just a year and a day away.

For this year's christmas we got a live Fraser Fir. I highly recommend getting a live tree. It's definitely better than mounting a carcass in your living room, stringing it with various decorations, and watching it wither away. Instead, our tree will get to enjoy all the merriments of the holidays, and then return to the wild outside and join compatriots for the winter, awaiting the arrival of another holiday next year.

Christmas tree in a Prius

For your edification, here is a summary of some other winter solstice stories & traditions:

  • The egyptian god Osiris was entombed: "At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing" and showing the image of a baby to the worshipers."
  • In ancient Greece, the winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day.
  • The popularly known Roman holiday Saturnalia began as a feast day for Saturn on December 17 and of Ops on December 19. About 50 BCE, both were later converted into two day celebrations. During the Empire, the festivals were combined to cover a full week: December 17 to 23.

However you choose to celebrate the solistice - have a good one.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.