Celebrate Winter Solstice on December 21, 2014 in the Portland/Vancouver Area
We’ve all noticed the days getting shorter of late, and this weekend, the shortest day of the year arrives. It marks the first official day of winter for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. For people who live in the Portland/Vancouver area, Winter Solstice begins precisely at 3:30 PM on Sunday.
The December solstice has been a memorable part of our cultures worldwide, even in ancient times. In the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice occurs during the season of dormancy, darkness, and cold. Yet, it also marks the slow return to more light each day thereafter. To many people, this return to light was a reason to celebrate nature’s cycle of continuation.
Winter Solstice Closer to Home
On Sunday, December 21, 2014, the hours of daylight in Clark County, WA will be 8 hours, 41 minutes and 15 seconds. Conversely, the longest day of the year, which was on June 21 of this year, known as Summer Solstice, was 15 hours, 41 minutes and 14 seconds. Seven hours difference in day light is quite notable, and noticeable!
Many people assume the shortest day of the year is because the earth is farthest from the sun. Not so, and in fact, the Earth is actually making its closest approach to the sun (which actually happens a couple of weeks past solstice). Seasons have nothing to do with the Earth’s orbit around the sun, but everything to do with how it spins around on its own axis.
Regardless, changes in seasons are a reminder of the continual changes in our lives. Days come, and days go. Children are born, and then they grow. Do you savor each day with joy and excitement? If winter’s harsh weather and darkness bring you gloom, remember you have no control over the reality of its existence. You do however have control over how it affects you.
Beating Winter Gloom
Even the 20% of Americans who suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, can beat it - here’s some advice health professionals and researchers. The tips originate from an article in Prevention magazine, online, December 2014.
- Go for a walk in a winter wonderland. ( Sunlight strolls help clear SAD by boosting Vitamin D levels )
- Get a light box - and make sure you keep the blinds open.
- Head to the gym. Burning calories will help your heart, and your head.
- Look for Lighten Up classes, they combine exercise with light therapy.
- Eat more fruits and veggies - apparently a study finds produce consumption leads to happiness.
- Chamomile eases anxiety. Ask your doc about taking a supplement.
- Take up a new hobby. Skate skiing, snow-shoeing
- Volunteer. Helping others helps you.
- Paint your interior walls a lighter color, surround yourself with cheer. Light candles, turn on the gas fireplace, or build a wood fire, etc.
- ( My personal recommendation) Re-frame your thinking. Concentrate on the magic of this special season. Chances are, stark winter beauty surrounds you. And, remember, the days will now start growing longer again.
Do you have a favorite winter activity or tip that beats the blues? Or, perhaps winter is your favorite season of all.
One of my favorite musical compilations about winter is Sting's album; If On A Winter's Night...he calls himself a "winter person."