Here’s a fun little article from the Boston Globe on the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year:
It is actually the day when the angle of the sun is as its minimum,” said Dani LeBlanc, a producer and educator at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science. “Since the equinox, the sun has been getting lower and lower in the sky.”
The earth is tilted at a 23.5-degree angle and the northern hemisphere is currently leaning at its farthest point away from the sun. But the distance is not what accounts for the waning daylight or winter cold. It’s the angle, forcing much of sunlight to bounce off the earth and leaving the ground relatively cold.
I tend to suffer from winter blues – mild (in my case; not always mild for everyone) depression that seems related in me to lack of sunshine and darkness and short days. I want to eat every carb in sight as darkness falls; whereas, sunshine feels almost like a food group. I’ve started aggressively compensating in the last few years – spending as much time as possible out of doors in the sunlight, vitamin D supplements, exercise, lightboxes – something has helped over the last couple of years, and hey, I’m good with placebo effects.
However, at this time of year, I cannot resist the deep inner belief that the sun is going to slide and go away and not return. And that we have come to the end of the 5th epoch because, at this time of year at least, I have discovered my deep religiousity and it is … Aztec. The only way to ensure the return of the sun is to enact the New Fire Ceremony, using a worthy law student. Or two, or three. The problem is, there are so few worthy law students any more!