Monday, December 21, 2009
The Shortest Darkest Day of the Year
Today is the day when ancient pre-Christian Europeans remembered their dead. Everyone knows that Stonehenge's famous heel stone marks the direction of the sunrise on June 21st. But the largest trilithon (now fallen) in the center of the whole circle pointed in the opposite direction, the direction of the setting sun today. Recently, archaeologists have discovered that Stonehenge is an enormous cemetery containing generations, perhaps centuries, of burials. The most important annual observance at Stonehenge probably took place today at sunset, and probably was about those dead.
This was also a time for celebration to drive back the gloom and to mark the turning of a corner. From now on, the days will slowly get longer and brighter until June 21st.
We still carry on those celebrations, and for the same old reasons. Now, we call it Christmas.
Posted by Counterlight at Monday, December 21, 2009