The Day of Darkness is Coming

But here comes the sun right behind it!

By Michael Turton

While some decry the arrival of winter, with its cold temperatures, snow and ice, others revel in the knowledge that the first day of winter, the solstice, signals an increase in the amount of daylight to be enjoyed with each passing day.

December’s full moon will fall on Christmas Day for the first time since 1977. According to NASA, the next Christmas Day full moon will occur in 2034.

December’s full moon will fall on Christmas Day for the first time since 1977. According to NASA, the next Christmas Day full moon will occur in 2034.

This year the winter solstice takes place at 11:48 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21. At that moment, the sun’s path will reach its southernmost position. The next day, the sun begins its slow journey northward.

Solstice comes from two Latin words meaning “sun” and “to stand still,” because, at first, the change in daylight is so slight it is indiscernible, making it appear the sun has stood still. But ever so gradually starting on Dec. 22, the sun will rise a minute or so earlier and set just a little bit later each day.

In Philipstown and Beacon, the sun will rise at 6:47 a.m. and set at 4:29 p.m. on Dec. 21, the darkest day of the year. On March 20, the vernal equinox will mark the first day of spring, when there are equal amounts of daylight and darkness.

A number of our modern-day Christmas symbols, including gift giving, mistletoe, holly, wreaths, the Yule log and tree decorations originated in ancient pagan civilizations as part of winter solstice festivities — the celebration of light.


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