Solstice: December 21, 2015, 8:49 pm PT.
Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere
The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or so, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Capricorn. The Sun rises and sets at the greatest southern distance from the equator. This day marks the official beginning of the winter season with the longest night of the year and the shortest day. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true: This time marks the longest day of the year and shortest night.
Festival of Light
The Winter Solstice correlates with many traditional world holidays, usually associated with ‘festival of light’ celebrations, which honor the dark of the year and express faith in the return of light and the upcoming growing season. Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, St. Lucia’s Day and Loi Krathong are just a few examples of some holidays near the Winter Solstice.
Winter is the time when creatures in cold climates prepare to hibernate and settle in for the season. The long nights lend to rest, introspection, meditation, home cooking, recovery, sleep and study. This may be why holidays near this solstice tend toward family activities and rituals. In song, winter refers to the mature years of adulthood, the time of retirement.
Winter Solstice also signals the passage of a cycle. You may want to take this period to evaluate the major events of the previous 12 months. Did you accomplish what you hope to achieve during that time? Would you have done anything differently? As you ponder in retrospect on what has just passed, you can begin to look forward to what you might achieve in the upcoming year.
The Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere
The Summer Solstice occurs around December 21 or so, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Cancer. The Sun rises and sets at the greatest northern distance from the equator, and it achieves the greatest elevation in the sky at midday. Summer officially begins with the longest day of the year and the shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse is true: This is the shortest day of the year and the longest night.
Return of light
Many traditional holidays were observed at this time, usually praying for success of the crops and also acknowledging the eventual decline of darkness and return of light. Although it’s officially the beginning of summer, this day is also known as Midsummer, which refers to the middle of the growing season in much of Europe and North America.
Passions heat up
With the Summer Solstice come activities associated with the warmer weather. Passions generally heat up when the temperature climbs to higher figures. Activities are more extroverted, which is why there are so many barbecues, parties and outdoor concerts. Kids get their long-awaited break for fun and games. This is also a great time for physical workouts and sporting activities outdoors, just before the summer heat becomes unbearable.
Physical prowess and power
Opportunities to meet new people are more likely with increased social events. Hot new romances can occur as people shed their many layers of winter clothing. Cabin fever may be high as the reclusive period of the cold season officially closes. In song, summer can refer to the height of a person’s physical prowess and power.