Greetings from Barichara, Santander, Colombia! Being so much closer to the equator, I didn’t get to experience the Winter Solstice yesterday. Here, sunrise and sunset are at the same time through out the year, give or take a half hour or so. And as much as I’m enjoying myself on my vacation, I get a little twinge about missing the shortest day of the year.
The Winter Solstice, and the Summer Solstice, too, are interesting subjects in that there are different ways to think about them, and so information about both is found in a variety of sources. From a scientific perspective, solstice is a term in astronomy that refers to the declination of the sun when at its farthest point north or south of the equator. I learned that by looking it up in Science Resource Center, one of the many databases we subscribe to that is accessible either in the library or from home with an Allegheny County library card. It contains the entire entry on solstices from the Gale Encyclopedia of Science, as well as other magazine and journal articles.
Checking in the library catalog, I found a book entitled Yule: A Celebration of Light & Warmth. This book has a call number that begins “GT,” which puts it in the area for “Manners and Customs.” Of course, that is where we find many books about holidays and celebrations, including the huge one currently looming.
What I am celebrating at Winter Solstice is the beginning of the slow lengthening of the days. I love the feeling that I can see one minute more of light each day until summer. If I were more ambitious, I would look in Medline Plus (a health database from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health) to explore just how important light is to the human body. As it is, I´m just going to go enjoy it for the rest of my vacation.