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The wood and the hearth for this evening's Yule celebration. (2008)
With day the thinnest and night the fattest today, the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. In ancient times, this was called The First Point of Capricorn because back then the sun was just entering the constellation of the goat-fish as autumn came to an end. Times change and stars drift (see precession), so today we would probably name it The Second (or Third) Point of Scorpio.
Round these parts, though, we just call it winter.
When I was a child, they told us in school that long ago people created huge bonfires of trees around this time of the year in order to bring the sun back and that's where Christmas trees come from.
The winter solstice is a day of seasonal and astronomical irony because even though this is when it's coldest (at least for those of us on this side of the equator), the Earth is actually closer to the sun than at any other time during the year. Turns out that it isn't distance that matters when it comes to seasons and such, but rather the angle of the sunbeams combined with the number of hours a day that our side of the planet is catching the rays.
Alex is here. Yes, the revelries have begun. About to rock wall climbing. Then it's time for a fire.
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