The good thing about the shortest day of the year is that by definition there is no shorter day. Humans know that December 21st is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere from science and from experience. There was however a time when humans were not sure that the days would get longer again – and that would have been quite unsettling. We fear global warming but our ancestors thought the sun could be going out!
Some 5,000 years ago, give or take, those crazy Brits erected Stonhenge for some sun related reason.
Eddie Izzard, a favorite British cross dressing archaeologist (er, comedian) tells the story like this:
So, yeah, the stones are from 200 miles away, in Wales, so these guys in Wales were obviously carving the rocks out of the very living mountain... "Fantastic, building a henge, are we? That's a fantastic idea! That's a marvelous religion the Druids have got! Yes, got a lot of white clothing, I like that. There we go!" And they smashed out a huge stone and then they put tree trunks down to roll it along on.
"All right, walk it along, here we go, here we go."
"Help you push 'em along? It's not far, is it?"
And the Druids going,
"Heave, everyone, heave! Well done, everyone, you're doing very well! You'll love it when you see it. I've seen some of the drawings already, it's very special."
For the video, click here.
I do like to stop and think for a minute on December 21st and remind myself that it is not going to get any worse than this. Tomorrow is a new day and there is going to be more daylight tomorrow than today.