Today marks the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. The word solstice comes from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). If you want to get picky, the actual solstice itself lasts only about a second, but we use the term to refer to the entire day.

The solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the lowest arc across our sky all year. In other words, today we receive the shortest number of daylight hours. That’s the bad news, for those of us who suffer from “SAD” (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

The good news is that tomorrow the days start getting longer again. Hooray!

In ancient times there were celebrations and rituals in almost every culture to mark this event. In Mesopotamia, 4000 year ago, there was a 12-day festival of renewal designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year. The ancients feared that without their solstice ceremonies, the failing light would never return.

So I’m taking no chances. Depending on the temperature outside, I’ll either dance around a campfire tonight, or light a few candles indoors to celebrate the return of the sun. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Viva la more daylight!