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December 21, 2007
Winter arrives in the wee hours
Journal photo / Connie Grosch
With all the problems that snow has caused the Ocean State lately, one might forget that winter has its pluses. One is the view from Prospect Park in Providence, overlooking downtown, as seen this past Sunday afternoon.
Tomorrow at 1:08 a.m. marks the winter solstice, or the first day of winter, when the northern hemisphere is tilted farthest from the sun.
For the next 24 hours we get the least direct sunlight and, (except for some irregularities due to Earth’s precession and elliptical orbit), we'll have shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.
For thousands of years, people have used this day as an excuse to celebrate the waning days of winter.
Zoroastrians in Persia had a yearly festival that corresponded with the solstice, and in the first centuries A.D., the Roman Empire celebrated Saturnalia, a dedication of the temple of Saturn.
Germanic pagans celebrated Yule around this time of year and many of their traditions, such as burning a log and hanging holly, were adapted by Christians and are now associated with Christmas.
After tomorrow, things can only get brighter – more sun, more warmth – until the summer solstice in June.
Meanwhile, the sun will make its way higher and higher into the sky, its rays hitting us more directly, heating the ground more efficiently, and lingering above the horizon just a little longer.
And snowplows will be a distant memory.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 6:57 PM | Permalink
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