“The fiercest blizzard begins with a single snowflake.” My friend Jonathan jokingly twisted the famous saying from the Tao te Ching: “A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one’s feet.” My young pal said the clever pun on December first, the beginning of meteorological winter.
Today is the first day of Astronomical Winter. That is the conventional calendar day of the December Solstice. My calendar says today is the first day of winter. However, if you are one of my readers who lives in the southern hemisphere, today is the first day of summer. Our tilted, spinning globe in orbit around the Sun makes this possible.
Meantime, here in Nebraska, wintry weather already happened for a few days last month; while springlike weather has appeared sporadically during December. On the other hand, daylight hours have become fewer and darkness hours have increased. If you are south of the Equator, the opposite is true. One of the items on my bucket list is to spend a December solstice in Argentina. To celebrate the first day of Summer in December seems like a fun proposition.
The solstices are meaningful because they display the extremes of light and dark as expressed in length of days and nights. There is the perception of contraction in the winter and expansion in the summer. We adjust our lifestyles to coordinate with shorter or longer days. These adjustments are cyclical, so it’s easy to take them for granted.
The winter solstices are personally special because I respect and am awed by severe cold and snowy storms. I feel at once vulnerable and amazed. Walking on the city trail is more enjoyable than doing so in the summer. I’d rather brave the cold than suffer through heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. There is also the cold, barren darkness of winter that brings out my inner Swede.
The December solstice has traditionally been a magical time of celebration. The ancient peoples held religious ceremonies regarding the shift from progressively shorter days to ever lengthening days. The world’s major spiritual institutions have scheduled major holidays in the latter part of the year.
December solstice is the time for slowing down for peaceful contemplation in the north; it is the time for speeding up for playful activity in the south. Of course, this is reversed concerning the June solstice. It’s good to ponder that the December solstice signals the journey towards spring in the north and the approach of autumn in the south. Such are the forces of extremes working towards the moderation of Equinox.
Regardless of the place of solstice, this is a special time of reflection, letting go of the past, healing, and fresh beginnings. In the north, the brisk winds gust, the deciduous trees are bare, and peaceful, restfulness lies beneath the snow. While in the south, life potential is manifesting under the stronger sunshine. Solstice reminds us that our world is amazing.
The Blue Jay of Happiness enjoys this quote from author, screenwriter, TV producer, George R.R. Martin. “My old grandmother always used to say, ‘Summer friends will melt away like like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”