Are you ready for the longest night of your life? Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but December 21 marks the Winter or Hibernal Solstice which brings the longest night of the year. In San Luis Obispo, the sun will set at 4:58pm on Wednesday and rise again at 7:11am the 22nd giving us just over 14 hours of darkness. Technically, solstice begins at 2:44 am on the 21st, marking the moment when Earth’s axial tilt causes a shift in which hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight. The Northern Hemisphere is now leaning furthest away from the sun, bringing winter and cold weather to the region. Though it’s the first official day of winter, our days actually begin to lengthen after the solstice, bringing slightly more light each day until Summer Solstice when things switch again.
Winter Solstice is seen as a time of renewal for many, a time when the sun returns, and even if there are many cold days ahead, the promise of longer, warmer days fills the spirit with hope for the future. If you need an extra shot of hope this time of year, or if you simply enjoy being aware of Earth’s natural changes, you might want to pay extra attention this Solstice Eve. There’s a wise saying about how it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness, but there is also something to be learned from the darkness itself.
Night is often correlated with fear, the unseen, the boogeyman – secret and negative things. But it is also the darkness from which all things are born. Night is the stars and the moon, dreams, romance and magic. Consider the night this Solstice Eve. Perhaps like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke you’ll conclude “You, darkness that I come from/I love you more than all the fires/that fence in the world…”