A Christmas story.. Did you know our celebration of Christmas has its origins in the movement of the heavenly bodies. It’s no coincidence that Christmas day 25 December is right around the winter solstice in Northern Hemisphere (Summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere).
Later on we’ll go into the astronomical details but, long story short.. In Northern Hemisphere, December 21st marks the shortest day of the year … the deepest point of winter. As we know – everything is pregnant with its opposite – life is circular when you reach the furthest extreme on a circle – you begin the return journey to your point of origin. In the deepest darkest point of winter, we find the seed of summer. A few weeks after the shortest day is when the really cold weather sets in January February. Basically, the earth on its yearly journey around the sun is “farthest” from the sun or least accessible to the warmth of the sun. This is all from the perspective of Northern Hemisphere – Southern Hemisphere is the opposite.
What’s this got to do with Christmas? Traditionally in Northern Hemisphere, 21 December was the pagan “Christmas” where provisions which had been stored for the long cold winter were broken out and shared amidst festivity and celebrations with friends family and community. Very practical in cold countries when you’ve already had a month or so of winter, it’s cold and snowing and you’re about to enter the hardest months.. What better to do than celebrate the advent of summer. Even though it’s getting harder.. good times are just around the corner..
Astronomy: Winter Solstice – Sol refers to Sun while stice means standing still. December 21st is the day when the Sun stands still.. what does that mean? If you note the sun’s position on the horizon each day at sunrise – in the Northern Hemisphere during winter you’ll see the sunrise position moving gradually south along the horizon. That is until the solstice on 21 December when the Sun’s southern treck “stops” and gradually begins to move North again. The point of sunrise on the horizon moves south in winter and north in summer – until the summer solstice on 21 June when it starts moving south again. This oscillating ecliptic is due to the fact that the earth spins on a tilted axis (approx 23.5 degrees) in its yearly orbit around the sun. The 23.5-degree tilt of the earth’s axis of rotation is responsible for the changing seasons. If it’s axis of rotation was perpendicular – straight up and down with reference to its orbital plane of the sun – the seasons would never change. Thank goodness the world is not entirely straight up and down.
What about those of us living down under in the great south land? It’s all upside down. All the star constellations appear upside down compared to the Northern Hemisphere. December 21st marks our Summer Solstice – the deepest part of summer – the advent of winter.. Santa Clause wears board shorts instead of a red jumpsuit.. It’s all upside down..
The other point of interest for December is planet Jupiter who we mentioned a few months back – the great benefic has now entered his own sign of Sagittarius and is bestowing his benefic influence to pacify the rancour of malefic planets Saturn Rahu Ketu which had been causing much distress throughout the year. Transiting Jupiter is being combusted by the Sun in the last half of December. With the solar eclipse on 26 December and Jupiter, being combust and therefore powerless to protect.. this may see a time of severe transitions in the world.. albeit for the best.