Winter Solstice 2017, Thursday December 21
Warning: Asperger “fact” rant ahead. LOL
We’re creeping up on the Winter Solstice, when daylight will increase by about 1 minute per day, a seemingly negligible difference, but by the end of January, that progression means that I won’t wake up to a dark world, but to a bright morning. I’ve written often about what a creature of the seasons I am, and how daylight affects my mood and sense of wellbeing.
This post was inspired by an announcement about a “Solstice Festival” that will be celebrated on December 16th. My reaction was this: What? Neurotypicals strike again! The Solstice is not “arbitrary” – it’s a specific astronomical event; you can’t just “reschedule it” for a convenient day and time adjusted to people’s schedules… which I suspect is what is going on, since this is a university event. I can imagine emails and texts flying across campus about “excuses” for why individuals can’t be present on the 21st, citing prior commitments of any and all sort, mostly trivial social obligations and logistics. A “date” was settled on by negotiation, most likely to fit the schedules of “higher status” individuals.
Neurotypical narcissism is astounding: The universe (or at least our solar system) DOES REVOLVE around the social schedule of Homo sapiens.
Can you imagine an upcoming Solstice festival in Stone Age Britain, in which messages must be conveyed “hither and yon and back” by bonfires, runners or flights of Ravens, asking scattered peoples when they can arrive for the “big event”, the timing of which must be negotiated between these far flung guests? The Solstice would have had no meaning at all!
Our pagan ancestors were dumb brutes? At least they got the “solar calendar” dates right! LOL
Below: How it works, subject of course to Neurotypical social calendars worldwide. In the U.S., Congress is considering combining the Winter and Summer Solstices, and the Spring Equinox into one national holiday, to be celebrated sometime in March, to coincide with “Spring Break”, when universities and colleges close anyway.
Graphics by Katie Peek, Popular Science
From a previous post about the possible function of mass festivals:
One evening while watching a “drama” about the function of megalithic sites like Stonehenge, and under the influence of a text about the essential importance of sun, moon and seasonal rhythms for all life, it occurred to me that perhaps what people were doing was synchronizing their biological clocks. Indeed, that ritual practices, especially dances as group activities, began as physiological “internal rhythm” setting that produce group cohesion and cooperation.
As we know, over time stories of “why we do this” become part of culture and pass into a social explanation of behavior. But, if we look at human behavior throughout history, we can see the persistence and proliferation of mass rituals (political, religious and even in consumer capitalism) for which we have forgotten the original biological function.
In fact, much of the lack of health and happiness in modern societies may be due to the breakdown of biological connection to natural cycles. The accounting of time and activity, measured by the heartbeat of an atom, has become a huge disruption to human harmony, both within nature, and between individuals and within groups.