Thursday, December 20, 2018

No Coincidence

As regular COTTonLINE readers know, I like to mark the seasonal milestones. Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. It marks the “official” beginning of winter here, the beginning of summer there.

Humans have been celebrating the winter solstice for thousands of years, nobody knows quite how many thousands. Early humans undoubtedly noted the cyclical nature of seasons. When their arithmetic and sky-gazing became sufficiently advanced and precise, they learned to predict the longest and shortest day.

The winter solstice in particular was important as it marked when the warmth-giving sun began to shine longer each day, when it “came back.” This was no small matter in northern Europe which isn’t overly warm or sunny under ideal conditions.

It is widely noted many cultures celebrate one or another key holiday around this time of year. Any who believe that to be coincidence are fooling themselves.