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Thursday, December 23, 2010

After Winter Solstice

To make conversion as convenient as possible, early christians aimed to take over dates that were already holidays in the Roman calendar. So it is that christmas falls on the time of Saturnalia, the celebration of winter solstice. Even so, it was an obscure and barely acknowledged occasion until the 19th century, when it was romanticized into the homely and gift-exchange event that it's become. Nevertheless, in the spirit of renewal manifest when our sun, viewed from the northern hemisphere, reaches its lowest angle and the earth begins again to tilt southward, I send you my greetings and wish you all better nutrition and more exercise in the coming year. I leave you then with this thought:

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem

Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;

It's comforting to look up from this earth

And know that, while all changes, nothing's lost.

I recollect that in antiquity

The winter solstice fell in Capricorn

And that, in the Orion Nebula,

From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

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