Winter Solstice

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 07:24 pm
flwyd: (sun mass incandescant gas)

At 05:30 UTC this Thursday, December 22nd, the Earth's axis will be exactly in line with the sun. Seen from the northern hemisphere, the sun will be the furthest south and closest to the horizon at that instant. The winter solstice has been celebrated for millennia by cultures from the Andes to the Urals and from Ireland to Japan.

Lacking precise astronomical tools, and desiring an excuse to party during the cold and dark season, cultures around the world often extended that moment to a day, a week, or more for a festival celebrating light, rebirth, and keeping warm. Scandinavians would gather family and friends and place a large yule log on the fire, feasting and celebrating while the log burned for many days. Similarly, in China, the Dōngzhì Festival features feasting with family. Solstice often marked a key point in the calendar. Celts and Druids created large stone structures structures like Stonehenge and Newgrange, in where a position is illuminated only at the solstice.

Winter solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. The cultural symbolism is thus often tied to the return or victory of a sun figure in the local mythology. Some examples:

  • Japanese myths tell of the sun goddess Ameterasu being lured back out of a cave and into the sky on winter solstice.
  • Korochun, celebrated by Slavs in Eastern Europe, marks the death of the old sun god and his resurrection as the new sun god.
  • The practice of lighting the menorah on Hanukkah may have originated as a solstice tradition.
  • Hopi and Zuni Indians celebrate Soyal, when the sun returns from a long sleep.
  • Sol Invictus, celebrated in the Roman Empire, translates literally as "Invincible Sun."
  • During the festival of Şeva Zistané, Kurds celebrate the rebirth of the sun and victory of light over darkness.

The theme birth and rebirth sometimes includes non-solar figures as well. The births of Pryderi (Welsh), Mithra (Persian), and Dievs (Latvian) are all celebrated at the winter solstice. Contemporary Wiccans and Neopagans often celebrate winter solstice as the death of the old god and birth of the young god. Locally, many Neopagans gather at Red Rocks before dawn on solstice to drum up the sun.

Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, falls on December 25th, the designated date of winter solstice in the Julian calendar. Christmas in many contemporary European communities incorporates old local solstice traditions such as the yule log. The practice of Christmas gift giving may have arisen from Saturnalia, widely celebrated in Rome when Christianity was introduced.

Happy Solstice

Monday, December 21st, 2009 11:07 pm
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
May the return of the sun bring light into your life.
Solstice sunset over Boulder
The courthouse octopus
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken heels over head)
Reminder: Winter Solabration is this Saturday from six until midnight or so.

Highlands Masonic Center
3550 N. Federal Boulevard in Denver

I'll be there. Possibly with bells on. Probably not with belles on, though.
flwyd: (big animated moon cycle)

The 22nd Annual Winter Solabration.

You can now order tickets on-line at the Swallow Hill Music Asssociation -- our co-sponser for this year's event.

Please join us on December 22nd from 6:00 p.m. to midnight at the Highlands Masonic Center, 3550 N. Federal Blvd. in Denver. This Yuletime celebration features a mummer's play, and sword and Morris dance performances, along with community singing, wassail, and traditional American contra dances for all.

We'll also have  juggling by Cirque du Awesome -- our awesome jugglers -- and storytelling by Susan Marie Frontczak.

Advance tickets are $24 through December 16th, and $32 thereafter. Teens are $18. Children 6 to 12 are welcome and the cost is $8. Tickets may be purchased in Boulder from H.B. Woodsongs, 2920 Pearl St., and in Denver from the Denver Folklore Center, at 1893 S. Pearl, and the Swallow Hill Music Association, 71 E. Yale Ave. in Denver. Tickets are available on-line or at various local dance events. For advance tickets by mail, call 303 777-1003 (MC/Visa). For more information, visit our web site at www.wsolstice.org, or call 303 571-9112.

Hope to see you there. Please pass this on to anyone who may be interested in a great holiday dance/party/event.

Links:
A Short History of the Winter Solabration
More Info about Rapper Sword Dancing
More Info about Mummer's Plays
Abbot's Bromley Horn Dance
Traditional American Community Dance

White Man's World

Thursday, December 28th, 2006 09:24 pm
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
I've often felt like it snowed more when I was a kid than it does now. Maybe it's global warming. Maybe it's a sun spot cycle. Maybe the photos from the Blizzard of '82 that I've looked at all these years have become worth three years of non-snowy memories. Maybe I just remember going sledding better than I remember running around on dead grass.

Whatever the reason for warm winters, this is the first season that's felt like I remember the winters of the '80s. There's a blizzard right now and the last blizzard hasn't finished melting yet. That seems to be an appropriate prototype of winter weather.

Last Thursday it was too snowy to drive to work. Instead of carpe tobagum (seize the sled), I slavishly tried to get work done all day.

The next morning was Drumming Up the Sun at Red Rocks. I woke up at 5:30 and drove to Red Rocks without a problem. I then missed the way to the top parking lot and instead turned at the sign pointing to the Upper South lot, figuring that it wouldn't be a bad walk from there up to the amphitheater. Unfortunately, the snow plow had left two feet of snow along the road, so pulling into the south lot was impossible. I continued down the road, looking for a place to turn around. As I went down the hill it got windier, blowing snow into drifts across the road. I figured I'd get down to Morrison, turn around, and go back up when I encountered an abandoned car stuck in a drift. I figured this would be a good place to turn around and attempted the maneuver. Unfortunately, I'd progressed to far into snow drift land to make that an easy task. Out came the folding army spade! 15 minutes of windy shoveling and back-forth-slide action I'd turned my car 180° and could see the sky brightening. I stepped on the gas and went nowhere. I put the Subaru in first gear and gave it a touch of gas. Still nothing. Between the hill, the blown snow, and my male-pattern balding tires (just before I was going to replace them I had $2,000 of repairs under the hood), I was stuck. So I grabbed my drum bag and walked up the hill.

Wading through ankle-deep snow I climbed the ramp and stairs and made it to the top of the amphitheater just as the sun crested the eastern horizon. I caught my breath, took a few pictures, and joined my fellow drummers for a few minutes before they all concluded and headed for breakfast. I got a ride in an SUV close to my car. I was going to try to start it again, but in the intervening time a guy in a pickup had gotten stuck in front of my car. He explained that he'd tried to go around, but that hadn't worked. Reverse also didn't work. He further explained that he was wearing sandals. Who the hell wears sandals in a blizzard? I figured the sandal man would take action to get his truck out of there, so I caught a ride to work in the SUV, figuring I could come back in the afternoon and a combination of plow and sun would have made escape easy.

Sure enough, plow and sun had improved the situation, but my car was now surrounded by plow walls. Again out came the folding army spade. I dug out the front of my car, but still couldn't get going up hill. I started to dig behind my car and the plow driver gave me a proper snow shovel. With the right tool, I was out in a few minutes, driving happily back to work.

I see about a foot of snow on my porch rail right now and it's still snowing hard. If, miraculously, it looks drivable tomorrow morning, I'll head to work; the office tends to be less distracting than home, especially if there's nobody else there. If I do stay home then by gum I'm going to carpe tobagum.
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
(staying up until 2am) + (getting up at 8am) + (working from home) + (cats who want attention) + (lower inhibitions about using OKCupid at home than at work) + (Front Row and Apple remote control) + (hot sex with wife) = (unproductive work day).

Apparently I forgot my lesson from college to go out and have fun for a while (e.g. go sledding) and I'll work more effectively. On the plus side, I'm tired enough to go to bed now which will make getting up at 5:30 for drumming up the sun at Red Rocks more feasible.

Colorado's been on national news due to the blizzard the last few days, but it's some of the best severe weather I can imagine. My Subaru (even with worn tires) had no trouble getting to and from work yesterday. The power stayed on the whole time, so Coloradans sat at home and uploaded pictures to the Internet. Others shoveled their sidewalks and ran around in the snow.

But the best part of Colorado weather? While hurricane alley takes months to recover from a disaster, our weather just slides on by (three pictures) )

flwyd: (pentacle disc)
The Winter Solabration is this Saturday at the Highland Masonic Lodge (35th and Federal in Denver). Music! Dancing! Dessert! Tradition!

I'll be there, but not with bells on. I'll leave that to the morris dancers.

Also, consensus seems to be that Drumming Up The Sun will be on the 22nd (next Friday) at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Enjoy the dark while it lasts! The sun's forces are amassing at the gates of Moranon January.
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken heels over head)
The web site has just been updated for the The 21st Annual Winter Solabration. New for this year -- you can now order tickets on-line at the Swallow Hill Music Asssociation -- our co-sponser for this year's event.

Please join us on December 16th from 6:00 p.m. to midnight at the Highlands Masonic Center, 3550 N. Federal Blvd. in Denver. This Yuletime celebration features a mummer's play, and sword and Morris dance performances, along with community singing, wassail, and traditional American contra dances for all.

We'll also have a performance by Moisey's Highland Dance Company, storytelling by Susan Marie Frontczak, and juggling by Cirque du Awesome.

Advance tickets are $20 through December 10th, and $26 thereafter. Teens are $16. Children 6 to 12 are welcome and the cost is $6. Tickets may be purchased in Boulder from H.B. Woodsongs, 2920 Pearl St., and in Denver from the Denver Folklore Center, at 1893 S. Pearl, and the Swallow Hill Music Association, 71 E. Yale Ave. in Denver. Tickets will also be available at various local dance events. For advance tickets by mail, call 303 777-1003 (MC/Visa). For more information, visit our web site at www.wsolstice.org, or call 303 571-9112.

Hope to see you there. Please pass this on to anyone who may be interested in a great holiday dance/party/event.

Links:

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