For many who are already sick of long nights and wondering when the sun is going to start making a longer appearance in their lives, hope is right around the corner. Winter solstice will occur on Wednesday,
marking the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the
moment when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun – 23.5 degrees, to be precise. For 2016, the exact moment falls at 5.44 a.m. EST, Dec. 21.
it also marks the start of astronomical winter, the winter solstice
heralds the shift toward increasing sunlight hours. That is certainly
something to be cherished today but for many cultures throughout history it has been considered a hugely significant event.
Thousands of years ago, when people were dependent on the harvesting of crops for survival, the seasons and the sun
were of crucial importance. Thus the winter solstice was seen as a
rebirth, marking the start of lighter days. Many ancient civilizations,
including the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, made offerings to gods as a
celebration of the sun’s return.
of the most enduring pagan celebrations of the winter solstice is the
ancient German festival of Yule. As well as sacrifices being offered to
the god Odin, it was an occasion for much merriment, with feasts, ale
drinking and singing.
of winter solstice continue to this day, with one of the most prominent
set to take place at Stonehenge. The English historical landmark is
believed to have been constructed thousands of years ago by Celtic
druids to line up with the exact position of the sunset on winter
solstice. It was then the sight for a festival featuring animal
sacrifices and much eating and drinking. In 2016, people – druid or not –
will be given free admission to the site to observe the solstice,
Winter solstice celebrations also continue to live on with Christmas.
Many traditions of Yule are linked with the Christian holiday, such as
the Yule Log, which was burnt during Yule celebrations in ancient times
and has now been made into a tasty treat. Christmas trees, mistletoe and gift-giving also have their roots with the winter solstice.
But the very date Christmas
is celebrated also has its roots in the Pagan rituals. No date is given
for Jesus’ birth in the Bible and it was originally Easter that was
given far greater significance in the Christian calendar. It wasn’t
until the fourth century that celebrating Christmas was crystalized in the calendar. It is believed by some that the date of Dec. 25 was chosen for Christmas in part because it coincided with the Roman winter solstice celebration of Saturnalia.
best way to celebrate the beginning return of light and life is to get
naked outside friends, jump in a hot tub and fuck your brains out.
"Blue" in Blue in the Bluegrass refers to my politics, not my state of mind, although being progressive-democratic in Kentucky is not for the faint of heart.
The Bluegrass Region of Kentucky is Central Kentucky, the area around Lexington. It's also sometimes known as the Golden Triangle, the region formed by Louisville in the west, Cincinnati in the north and Lexington in the east-south corner. This is the most economically advanced, politically progressive and aesthically beautiful area of the state. Also the most overpopulated by annoying yuppies and the most endangered by urban sprawl.
A Yellow Dog Democrat is one who will vote for even a yellow dog if it is running as a Democrat. I can't claim to be quite that fanatically partisan, especially since quite a few candidates who run as Democrats in Kentucky are more Republican than a lot of Republicans I can name.
But I do love the story Kentucky House leader Rocky Adkins never tires of telling about the old-timer in Eastern Kentucky who was once accused of being willing to vote for Satan if Satan ran as a Democrat. Spat back the old-timer:
"Not in a primary, I wouldn't!"