Happy northern hemisphere winter solstice!

Posted by barbara on December 24, 2012

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The December sunrise over Sydney Harbour

For southern hemisphere dwellers, what exactly is the true meaning of the festival of Christmas beyond the ever burgeoning big C of consumerism?

The baby Jesus, the three wise men, the spirit of giving, and so on?

For the offspring of European families who emigrated to the 'land down under' post 1788, Christmas continues to be an upside down kind of event. While our UK forebears endure the depths of winter during December, the experience of Christmas in Australia is clearly the exact opposite, to the point where cool, wet and windy Christmas days, like 25 December 2012 is shaping up to be, are considered in some circles a rank disappointment.  

So what's Christmas all about at its core? In short, daylight.

This ancient festival, rebadged over the centuries, has much to do with daily temperatures, and the knowledge that from this week forward, the sun will rise a little earlier, sink a little later, and the days and nights will progressively warm up.  

At the darkest and coldest time of year, the late December solstice heralded for our northern hemisphere ancestors the return of creature comforts in the form of bodily warmth and the promise of thriving crops, fruit for the picking and procreating livestock, all great great causes for celebration. 

Conversely, for southern hemisphere folk who genuinely love the heat, there's less to celebrate about the December turn of season because the summer solstice heralds shorter days and the return of winter.

 

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