Almanac Companion Newsletter
December 21, 2010
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The Winter Solstice
The solstice arrives with winter today at 6:38 P.M. EST! This year has an usual solstice! The first day of winter coincides with the Full Cold Moon—as well as a total lunar eclipse.
Since 1793, when The Old Farmer’s Almanac began tracking heavenly events and seasonal changes, the Moon has been full on the first day of winter just nine times. See our chart tracking the full Moon on the winter solstice.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, the total lunar eclipse occurred very early today, with totality starting at 2:40 A.M. ET (11:40 P.M. PT, Dec. 20).
The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol, or “Sun,” and stitium, or “stoppage.” The days are now starting to get a little longer every day. Find out the length of day where you live.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed halcyon days to occur around the winter solstice. This was supposedly a period when the seas were calm enough to allow the kingfisher (halcyon) to lie quietly afloat on its nest at sea. These days have come to signify a time of peace and restfulness.
Candles have long been popular at this dark time of year. Burning a bayberry candle on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve is a tradition that has been around for many years. For a festive evening, brighten the night with luminaries on your porch or walkway. See how to make luminarias.
Ancient rituals, lunar eclipses, and the longest night of the year! Watch video.
Dimmest and brightest month am I;
My short days end, my lengthening days begin;
What matters more or less Sun in the sky,
When all is Sun within?
–C. G. Rossetti (1830–94)
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- Total Lunar Eclipse Scenes From Around the World (sfist.com)
- Lunar eclipse makes memorable solstice – AFP (news.google.com)
- “There’s a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice 2010” and related posts (blogs.babble.com)
- Lunar eclipse coincides with winter solstice (pennlive.com)
- “Rare Total Lunar Eclipse Coincides With Winter Solstice” and related posts (hawaiireporter.com)