Winter solstice provides a time for reflection |

Winter solstice provides a time for reflection

by Amy Roby

With the gray, chilly days and cold, frosty nights we’ve experienced lately, it certainly feels like winter. However, winter doesn’t officially arrive until the solstice Dec. 21.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, the Southern Hemisphere experiences its summer solstice on that same day, marking the longest day and shortest night for that half of the earth.

It takes approximately 365 days for Earth to orbit the sun. In addition, it takes 24 hours for the earth to spin once on its axis, which is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees. It’s because of this continuous rotation and tilted axis that different parts of the world receive varying amounts of sunlight through the year. This is how we end up with different seasons.

On the day of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is at its furthest point away from the sun. The sun arcs across the sky at its lowest point, resulting in the shortest day of the year. Once the winter solstice passes, the length of each day (meaning the amount of sunlight we receive each day) gradually increases.

Thousands of years ago, people feared that the sun would disappear altogether, leaving them cold and in darkness forever. Even now, this transition into winter can be a dark and dreary time as we find ourselves yearning for spring and summer’s light.

Personally however, I love this time of year. There’s something about the early darkness that encourages me to slow down both physically and mentally. It’s an invitation to sit by the fire with a warm mug and good book, or to reflect on the many blessings in my life.

If you feel dragged down by the long nighttime, try to create a tradition or ritual for yourself that brings you happiness. Some things that have brought me joy are meeting a friend for coffee, reading a special book to my son before bedtime, playing cards with my husband, spending more time in the kitchen with a new recipe and writing letters to my loved ones. Anything can be your inspiration.

Another fun idea would be to head over to the Douglas County Fairgrounds today or tomorrow and help wrap and sort gifts for Project Santa Claus. Volunteers are needed anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. For more information, you can call director Marilyn Malkmus at 782-4931.

May your heart be filled with joy and peace.