~★~♥~♥~★~ El Morno! ♥~★~★~♥ ~
December 21, 2014
★~ Today’s Quote: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ~ Mary Oliver
★~ Winter Solstice:
In the Northern Hemisphere, the day of the winter solstice features the least amount of possible daylight and the longest night. The converse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. Below are the sunrise and sunset times for the 2014 winter solstice. Check out Google’s fun Solstice doodle.
★~ Kiwi fruit Day:
Originally discovered in the Chang Kiang Valley of China, kiwifruit was considered a delicacy by the great Khans who relished its emerald green color and dazzling flavor. By the mid 1800s, the fruit had found its way into other countries which nicknamed it Chinese gooseberry, and it wasn’t long before New Zealand growers were exporting the exotic fruit to specialized markets around the world.
Fast-forward to 1962, when a California produce dealer began importing New Zealand gooseberries to satisfy the request of a lone Safeway shopper. The dealer renamed the product “kiwifruit” because of its resemblance to the fuzzy brown kiwi — New Zealand’s funny-looking national bird. By the late 1960s, California began producing its own kiwifruit in the Delano and Gridley areas.
Production of California Kiwifruit skyrocketed in the 1980s, rising 667% in just five years to keep up with soaring demand. As its popularity grew, so did its reputation being a nutrition power fruit, research found kiwifruit to be the most “nutrient dense” of all major fruits, containing more vitamin C than an orange and more potassium than a banana. In 1992, kiwifruit was ranked among the top ten most nutritious foods.
★~ Today in History:
♥~ 1913 – The crossword puzzle—that staple of newspapers across the country—turns 100 years old today. The first crossword puzzle was compiled by Arthur Wynne and published in a supplement to the New York World. Be sure to check out the interactive google doodle.
♥~ 1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs film premiere anniversary. America’s first full-length animated feature film (and also the first Technicolor feature) premiered on this date at the Carthay Circle Theater, Hollywood, CA. The labor of love from Walt Disney—who for years wanted to create a feature-length cartoon—involved more than 750 artists and 1,500 colors in four years of development. The film features the classic songs “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and “Whistle While You Work.” Walt Disney received a special Oscar for Snow White—along with seven miniature Oscars. Can you name the seven recipients of the miniature Oscars?
♥~ 1966 – The Beach Boys received a gold record for the single, Good Vibrations. A-one, and a-two and… “…I’m pickin’ up good vibrations. She’s givin’ me excitations…”
♥~ 1967 – The Rolling Stones LP, Their Satanic Majesties Request, was released. It cost $50,000 to produce and came complete with a 3-D photograph of the Stones on the cover.
♥~ 1985 – Bruce Springsteen’s album, Born in the USA, passed Michael Jackson’s Thriller to become the second longest-lasting LP in the top 10. It stayed there for 79 weeks. Only The Sound of Music, with Julie Andrews, lasted longer: 109 weeks.
♥~ 1935 – Phil Donahue TV talk show host: Donahue; married to actress Marlo Thomas
♥~ 1937 – Jane Fonda Academy Award-winning actress: Coming Home , Klute ; Barbarella, The China Syndrome, Cat Ballou, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, On Golden Pond; ex-wife of Time-Warner’s Ted Turner; daughter of actor Henry Fonda; sister of actor Peter; exercise videos; Vietnam-era peace activist
♥~ 1940 – Frank Zappa musician, songwriter, singer: group: Mothers of Invention; Valley Girl [w/daughter Moon]
♥~ 1954 – Chris Evert tennis champion
♥~ 1955 – Jane Kaczmarek actress: Malcolm in the Middle
★~ Solstice Gallimaufry:
December may be marked by Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but for pagans it’s the time to celebrate Yule. The holiday marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (Sunday, Dec. 21, this year) and celebrates the rebirth of the sun and beginning of winter. It is one of the oldest winter celebrations known.
The winter solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. The Earth’s axis tilts the furthest away from the sun at 23-and-a-half degrees, giving all locations north of the equator less than 12 hours of daylight. This moment has been marked by mankind for centuries.
In ancient Rome, the weeklong feast of Saturnalia honored the sun god Saturn. Celts believed the sunstood still for 12 days, making it necessary to light a log fire to conquer the darkness. During the Iron Age, the Celts and other ancient Europeans welcomed the winter solstice by feasting, merrymaking and sacrificing animals. Today modern pagans celebrate the holiday by lighting candles, throwing bonfires, hosting feasts and decorating their homes.
Celebrating the rebirth of the sun can be seen in other cultures throughout history. While these typically took place during the coldest, darkest days of the year, winter solstice traditions were celebrations that gave people hope sunny days lay ahead.
Egyptians celebrated the return of Ra, god of the sun, on a daily basis. Ancient Greeks held a similar festival called Lenaea. The Roman Empire held Saturnalia celebrations. Scandinavia’s Norsemen called the holiday “Yule.” Families would light Yule logs where they would eat until the log burned out – which could take up to 12 days. Each spark was believed to represent a new pig or calf that would be born in the new year.
Germanic peoples would celebrate the winter festival by honoring the pagan god Odin. Many believed he would fly through the night sky (on a magical flying horse) and determine who would be blessed or cursed in the coming year. Many decided to stay indoors, fearing Odin’s wrath.
Relation to Christmas
Originally the Christian calendar focused on Easter. It was only in the fourth century that the church decided Jesus Christ’s birthday should be celebrated. Since the Bible did not point to an exact date when Christ was born, Pope Julius I chose Dec. 25. It’s commonly believed that the church chose the date in an effort to replace the Roman Saturnalia with the Christian holiday.
“As the Christmas celebration moved west,” Harry Yeide, a professor of religion at George Washington University told National Geographic. “The date that had traditionally been used to celebrate the winter solstice became sort of available for conversion to the observance of Christmas. In the Western church, the December date became the date for Christmas.”
Besides the date, Christian leaders found ways to relate the pagan holiday to the Christian one.
“This gave rise to an interesting play on words,” Yeide said. “In several languages, not just in English, people have traditionally compared the rebirth of the sun with the birth of the son of God.”
Christmas traditions including dinner feasts, gift-giving, and decorative wreaths can be traced back to winter solstice rituals. For instance, for the Celtic druids, mistletoe was a sacred plant called “All Heal.” Priests would cut the plant from the tree, hold a feast and sacrifice animals underneath it. Mistletoe was believed to cure illnesses, serve as an anecdote for poisons, ensure fertility and protect against witchcraft. Some people would hang it from their doorways or rooms to offer goodwill to visitors.
Ancient Romans would decorate their homes with holly during winter solstice. Holly wreaths were given as gifts and used as decoration in public areas and in homes to honor the sun god Saturn. Ancient Celts would have similar traditions. Many would plant holly in their homes as a form of protection since the plants was believed to hold magical powers for its ability to survive the winter months.
For Wiccans and Druids, Yule is one of the eight solar holidays celebrated each year. Wiccans see Yule as a time to spend with friends and family, exchange gifts and honor the sun. Homes are decorated with red, green and white decorations – colors that hark back to Druidic traditions.
Some Wiccans welcome the new solar year with light. Rituals can include meditating in darkness with lit candles, singing pagan carols and lighting Yule logs (either in indoor fireplaces or outdoor bonfires).
Wiccan priestess Selena Fox suggests decorating an evergreen wreath with holiday herbs and mounting it on the front door to celebrate the continuity of life. Evergreen trees can be decorated as well with holiday decorations and pagan symbols. “Call it a Solstice tree,” Fox said in a blog post about winter solstice traditions.
Druids typically celebrate the holiday at Stonehenge in England. Last year 3,500 visitors watched the sun rise and watched how it cast a line that directly connects the altar stone, the slaughter stone and heel stone. Similar celebrations take place at other ancient sites such as Newgrange in Ireland and the Cerro del Gentil pyramid in Peru.
I’ll write a blog post about last week, as soon as I figure out how to describe a week that included being locked out of my rental car twice in one day.
Off and running…our howldays are in full tail wag. Happy Solstice!
Odd Loves Company,