Archive for December 22nd, 2009


Hurray! Turn-around day!

The winter solstice occurs exactly when the earth’s axial tilt is at its maximum angle away from the sun. The exact time of winter solstice just lasts a moment, but the term is used colloquially to refer to the day on which it occurs. In Ottawa, winter solstice occured at 12:47 PM on December 21st. On the 21st, the day length was 8 hours, 42 minutes and 49 seconds. On the 22nd, the day will be 8 hours, 42 minutes and 51 seconds, with the sun rising at 7:40 and setting at 4:23 PM. Yay! Two whole seconds more of daylight! Well, it may not seem like much but it isn’t long before those seconds add up. In a month, we’ll be up to 9 and a half hours, steadily marching towards the spring equinox.

The winter solstice has long been celebrated, with many ancient festivals associated with this date. The Christian recognition of Christmas adapted some pagan rituals of winter solstice into its celebration. The Christmas tree, for example, is thought by some to have originated with a pagan tradition of bringing evergreen boughs indoors and may be related to pagan tree worship. Here in the north, just knowing that the days have transitioned from shortening to lengthening is cause for celebration.


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