Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Solstice salutations!

It's so hard to know what to do when time-zone variances skew holiday celebrations. The winter solstice, for example, occurred in Iowa at 10:49 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, CST, which translates as 04:49 Tuesday, Dec. 22, Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT (now superseded by Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC) in merry olde England. So Dec. 22 is the official date of this year's solstice even though it occurred on Dec. 21 here.

In the southern hemisphere, of course, our winter solstice is their summer solstice --- and don't even mention the International Date Line --- please.

Whatever the case, I thought about lighting a fire in the middle of the front yard last evening, then dancing around it in my pajamas to celebrate --- but went to bed instead.

Just as well. Ever since Christians declared war on the solstice some centuries ago, we've had plenty of pagan symbolism incorporated into our winter celebration any way.

Those who consider such things are inclined to think the early Christians just appropriated the solstice season and appended Christmas to it. In case you're the sort who worries about such things, there's nothing in the least "Biblical" about Christmas --- in fact our Puritan forbears outlawed it for a time because of that.

But there is a conflicting theory --- that the Blessed Virgin Mary jotted down the date of the Annunciation --- March 25 --- in her diary and since we know that infants always are born precisely 9 months after conception, the blessed babe really did spring forth on December 25th.

Take your pick, but light a candle, turn the Christmas tree on, celebrate the returning of the light.

Be warned, however that "as the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger." Even though the predicted high here today is 46 --- and the first chance of a little snow (mixed with rain) won't come until Saturday evening.

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