Winter Solstice

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Today is winter solstice. It means it is the shortest day of the year, at least here in the northern hemisphere of the earth.

For a person who grew up in a tropical country that is near the equator, I really did not pay that much attention to solstices before. First of all, we don’t have winter, for it is eternal summer in the Philippines. Plus, the length of days varies only about an hour or so the whole year through. Though I have read a short story titled “Summer Solstice” by a well known Filipino author, Nick Joaquin. The story has nothing to do with the length of day but rather is about fertility ritual in the Philippines. Sorry I digress.

When I migrated to the northern hemisphere, I became more cognizant of the solstices for it impacts our activities. Like here in the US, we can have more than 15 hours of daylight during summer, but also more than 15 hours of night during winter. In Alaska (most northern state of US), they can have only 5 hours of daylight during winter.

Long nights can make people sad, as SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder is more prevalent when days are short. Decreased sunlight somehow directly affects our brain. Winter solstice mark the start that daylight will become longer. That is why in many cultures this day is celebrated.

The observation of summer and winter solstices have been studied since the beginning of our civilization.

A monument that is believed to observe summer and winter solstice is the Stonehenge as these stones align with the movement of the sun. Though the purpose of the Stonehenge is lost to us, as there will always be debate for its real meaning.

How and why this structure was built is beyond me. But considering it was constructed about 5000 years ago just prove that people we call ancient are ingenious and intelligent. And that is enough for me.

To enlighten you on whatever significance winter solstice is to different times, cultures and people is not my aim. All I know is from this time on, days will be getting longer, and that is something to look forward to.

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