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Winter Solstice

Dec 21, 2015

Winter is officially upon us with the first day of winter falling on December 22nd in 2015. Read on to learn more about this annual season change.

What Is It?

Winter solstice marks the beginning of winter and it's also the shortest day of the year. Because of the earth's tilt, on this day the Northern Hemisphere is as far away from the sun as it can be. Therefore, the first day of winter has the least amount of sunlight.

Celebrations

Solstice means "standing still sun" and has historically been a day for celebration . This tradition started with an ancient fear that the fading light would never return unless humans kept watch and had a huge celebration. Tons of cultures and societies have solstice celebrations. Here are some of the craziest highlights!

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the yearThe Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year

Ancient Greece

The winter solstice celebration was called Lenaia (Festival of the wild women). According to Greek myth, a man representing the harvest god Dionysus was sacrificed and then eaten by nine women! It was believed that Dionysus would be reborn as a baby when the ritual was complete. Eventually a goat was used as a sacrifice in place of the human for the ritual.

Winter Solstice scenery Winter Solstice scenery

Ancient Rome

Huge feasts were held and houses and halls were decorated with boughs of evergreen trees. Roman masters feasted with slaves and slaves were also allowed to do and say pretty much what they wanted, which was very different than what their everyday lives were like. Because this was such an important day, schools were closed, the army took a day of rest and no criminals were executed.

Pagan Scandinavia

Yule logs were burned because they believed the log could magically make the sun brighter. Europe and many other places still burn the Yule log, but it is now just a symbolic gesture. Scandinavians also listened to minstrel poets sing about ancient legends.

The Winter Solstice was celebrated by Druids and PagansThe Winter Solstice was celebrated by Druids and Pagans
 

Celtic Druids

Mistletoe was sacred to Druids. Druid priests used a golden sickle (kind of a hooked blade) to cut it from the tree it was growing on. Then they handed it out to the people, calling it All-Heal. The people hung it in a doorway or a room to offer goodwill to visitors. Mistletoe was forbidden in most Christian churches because of its Pagan associations.

Have Your Say

How do you celebrate winter solstice? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

66 Comments

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Which is NOT True of Winter Solstice?

  • Due to global warming, there will not be a winter solstice in 2014.
  • When it is winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, it is summer solstice in the Southern.
  • There is no sunlight in the North Pole during the winter solstice.
  • Evidence of winter solstice rituals exists around the world.

Random In The Forums

-Gwen9--
-Gwen9-- posted in New Users:
I commented Jordan about it. I found it a great idea. 
reply 9 minutes
Black_Rose_19
Black_Rose_19 posted in Debating:
Haha, I guess after looking at your facts, you win. I still am pretty bad at this, so I'm quick to give up, but you've actually successfully changed my opinion on this, so props to you. Well, that's what I get for messing with the master.
reply 10 minutes
naruto200
naruto200 posted in New Users:
Yeah, i'm not blaming you for that. Just, they might find it annoying. But kw should make a tutorial video for kw though. That would be so appreciated by new users.
reply 19 minutes
-Gwen9--
-Gwen9-- posted in New Users:
I don't mean for it to be spread out into posts, but there is a character limit. 
reply 26 minutes
AlphaT
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"Black_Rose_19" wrote:I originally got this story from a source that most people wouldn't exactly call credible , a comedy/politics TV show, but after checking their sources, I believe I have a strong case with decently strong sources.  I hope so. I'm using the same source that John used for debate's sake.  "Black_Rose_19" wrote:You are incorrect when you said you'd only have to pay for labor and materials, as several other factors come into play. Factors...such as? "Black_Rose_19" wrote: Also, where I said 1000 feet, I very much apologize, more like 1000 miles. It should cost about 10 billion for the concrete panels, and although concrete is cheap, it's not dirt cheap, and 1000 miles of concrete will add up to a pretty good amount.  It's okay, I adjusted ## ####### to miles, but somehow still said feet. The same estimate I gave is found in the article, which is around eight million cubic yards of concrete. This would total out to roughly thirty two billion pounds of concrete, which totals out to 533 million bags of concrete, each weighing sixty pounds. The average cost of a sixty pound bag of concrete is $2.83, which we them multiply by 533 million to get 1.5 billion.  This is where I messed up. I used the standard price of unmixed concrete, when I needed to use the standard price of precast slabs. Oliver's source does the rest:  "A cement manufacturer said prices are now running $85 to $90 a cubic yard, so that works out to about $700 million just for the concrete" However, in an update, they nixed the math all together and went with an anonymous economist's unevidenced estimate:  "He worked through some of the math, though he did not want to be identified publicly. Roughly, he said a wall of this type would cost at least $25 billion" This is what John Oliver used on his show. As the unknown economist cites no reason for us to think that the cost would be anywhere near his estimate, I see no reason to think his estimate is valid.  So, effectively, we've reduced the cost from 3 billion to 700 million. Let's the keep the billion dollar safe fund though. Total so far: 1.7 Billion "Black_Rose_19" wrote:Next it should cost 5-6 billion dollars for steel columns to hold the panels, including labor. Really? Including labor? Fine with me. I'm honestly not sure how much steel would be needed for each panel, so I'll defer to this estimate.  Total Cost so far: 6.7 Billion "Black_Rose_19" wrote:Add another billion for concrete footing and foundations, and that's sixteen billion dollars. The Washington Post article included foundation in their total assessment of the concrete required. "Black_Rose_19" wrote:But, transport is required to inaccessible areas. It will cost about another 2 billion dollars to build roads that will allow 20 ton trucks to carry materials to the wall. At ten million dollars per mile, a road spanning the entire length of the wall would require ten billion dollars. Why do you think a fifth of this cost would be required?  The average cost of a road which would allow such transport is 5 million per mile. Let's overestimate the length that would be required to two hundred miles. That gets you to 1 billion.  Total cost so far: 7.7 Billion "Black_Rose_19" wrote:We also need engineering, design, and management, which brings us up to the magic number of 25 billion dollars, on average considering all factors. The Congressional Budget office also says that wall management costs will exceed the original cost to build the wall in as little as seven years. From your previous estimate of eighteen billion, I'll assume that you're factoring in seven billion dollars worth of engineering, design, and management? Why do you think it'll cost that much? To pay every engineer, designer, and manager who would ever work on the wall...I'd put aside about 1.5 billion. Total cost: 9.2 Billion Well what do you know. About a sixth of the annual trade deficit with Mexico, and almost a third of your original estimate.  "Black_Rose_19" wrote:With the Mexico paying for it part, as John Oliver, the host of this show, says, "People don't exactly love it when you make them pay for [expletive] they don't want." The current Mexican treasury secretary states, "Mexico, under no circumstance, is going to pay for the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing." 2 former Mexican presidents that only recently left office also say, in a nutshell, that Mexico will never pay for the wall.  They won't love it, but they will pay for it. If they refuse, Trump plans to put a 35% tariff on all Mexican import. In other words, every company in Mexico will have to pay 35% the value of whatever they're bringing into The United States. Mexico will lose more money paying this tariff than they would by financing the wall, so either way the United States gets the money it needs to build the wall from Mexico. 
reply 39 minutes