This time of year always drags me down.
Even with the comforts of modern life the lack of real sunlight has an effect on my affect.
My energy is in short supply.
Since the middle of October through November until this point in December my batteries have been draining away.
I read some research a couple of years ago that said that humans in the age before fire was discovered were semi-hibernatory in the winter darkness.
This makes perfect sense to me.
The little knocks of life hit me so much harder at this time of year.
In the height of summer with days stretching beyond 22.00hrs at night then I doubt I would even register them.
I know that it isn’t only me.
Hippocrates, the founding father of Western medicine knew that the seasons of the year were key to understanding what ails man.
In the weeks before the Solstice the days shorten until there is almost no day.
Those weeks with their shortening day are tough if, like me, you need sunlight to function.
The body is saying curl up and sleep till the sun shines again.
I think the French had a word for it…
Of course modern life will not allow you to do that.
We are not in the state of nature and these short, bleak days remind me that we are paddling against the natural current.
For us in the Northern hemisphere the creeping darkness halts on the 22nd.
The winter solstice will occur at 05:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on December 22, 2011 people in Ireland understood its significance 5000 years ago.
Personally I think winter hibernation; especially here in places like Hibernia (the wintery island) should be a human right!
Our Christmas celebrations in Europe have evolved out of this solar reality.
Until the 16th century, the winter months were a time of famine in northern Europe. Most cattle
were slaughtered so that they wouldn’t have to be fed during the winter, making the solstice a time
when fresh meat was plentiful. Most celebrations of the winter solstice in Europe involved
merriment and feasting. In pre-Christian Scandinavia, the Feast of Juul, or Yule, lasted for 12 days
celebrating the rebirth of the sun god and giving rise to the custom of burning a Yule log.
In ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated at the Feast of Saturnalia, to honour Saturn, the
god of agricultural bounty. Lasting about a week, Saturnalia was characterized by feasting,
revelry and gift-giving. With Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, many of these
customs were later absorbed into Christmas celebrations.
All of these agriculture based cultures in different historical moments knew what was important. That from that special day onwards the days would, incrementally, be a bit longer.
The warming sun, the life giving, the crop growing sun was becoming stronger.
So celebrate the turning of the year tomorrow and the re-birth of the sun.
We all need the light.