Today is the winter solstice or the first day of winter. And while winter is not one of my favorite seasons, I do like the idea of acknowledging and welcoming the onset of a new season. Since you never hear much mentioned about the official days when the seasons change, and even less about the winter solstice I decided to do a little reading up on it. The meaning of the word solstice is "sun stands still." I found some fascinating tidbits at the Candle Grove website. For instance, Newgrange, a megalithic stone structure in Ireland was built in an exact position to receive a shaft of sunlight deep into its central chamber at dawn on the winter solstice. This structure is estimated to be over 5,000 years old. Can you imagine how they ever figured this out? Hundreds of buildings and churches in Europe were oriented to the solstices and equinoxes. I wonder if there are any structures built today for this purpose. Our ancestors were definitely more adapt at living in tandem with the cycles and rhythms of nature. Many ancient cultures observed and celebrated the winter solstice with traditional rituals. According to this website it seems as though modern man has transplanted Christmas onto winter solstice. And now the meaning of the celebration of Christmas is changing to the tune of our modern material world! Happy Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year! It is after all a turning point in the seasons. The day which officially marks the return of the sun!