Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Great 2009 Winter Solstice Mystery

Being the ungodly heathens we are at Amos (although it is well possible that JJ may find the Lord in the near future), we like to send out Winter Solstice greetings on December 21st, as this is the shortest day of the year and the turning point before we start the rush to Summer (or Winter if you are based in the Southern Hemisphere). This time of year affects us all and its existence cannot be denied, so it would seem right to mark it with some form of celebration. But this year there has been some confusion as to when the Solstice should be celebrated. The Druids, usually reliable keepers of solar time, could not decide amongst themselves. Here in the UK a bunch turned up to celebrate at Stonehenge (or Henge as we affectionately like to call it) on both the dawn of the 21st and the 22nd of December. The Gregorian calendar is out of synch with the solar calendar so they decided the Solstice should be celebrated on the 22nd. Yet, according to astronomers, the earth was furthest away from the sun at 17:47 on December 21st. So what decides when the Solstice should be recognised.?

After some research we have concluded that if the sun sets AFTER the actual Solstice, the Druids choose to celebrate on the following dawn (the 22nd in this case). This is despite the fact that this year there were fewer hours (9 hours and 43 minutes) between the actual Solstice and the dawn of the 21st which occurred at 08:04, than between the solstice and dawn on the 22nd which also occurred at 08:04 (14 hours and 17 minutes). Surely there is some Druid convention that comes into play here? And what of other pagan religions? When did they celebrate the Solstice? Any clarification on when we should have been celebrating the Solstice would be much appreciated.

In the meantime (and somewhat belatedly) seasons greetings to all, whatever your spiritual or philosophical inclinations.