Tuesday, 21 December 2010

the bottom of the year

is where we are now:
and we know that in many cultures we light fires and candles and bring greenery into the house at this time, because somewhere deep inside we are not quite sure that the light will ever come back.  And we still do it today.  People who say "oh, Christmas is just an appropriation of the Mithraic cult, which celebrated the birth of the Sun King, whose mother was the Goddess, at the winter solstice" are missing the point.  We do it because, whatever our beliefs, this is not really about belief.  It is not rational.  Today the sun has gone away and we would like it to come back, thank you very much.  Last year sig other and I were in Iceland in late June, when it did not get dark at all, and that was harder to take than endless darkness is - but you would not like either of them to be a permanent state.  And yet near the equator the days are always pretty much the same length.  So are people who live with unchanging length of days different from us who live closer to the poles?  Discuss.


Anonymous said...

Bring me sunshine etc.

Sauti Ndogo said...

When my girlfriend (now wife) first came to the UK (from Nairobi, where the sun always rises/sets at 6.35 a.m. and 6.35 p.m. - plus or minus just a few minutes throughout the year) it was the end of May and she was fascinated to find it still light at 10 p.m.

She has since learnt that all places on the earth's surface get six months of light and six months of darkness a year, and so in winter we have to repay all that extra light we borrowed in the summer!

Tanzania's Julius Nyerere thought the extremes of summer and winter in the higher latitudes instilled a discipline in their inhabitants. It taught them to take good advantage of the summer to prepare for the winter ahead. In the tropics, such planning is not needed as much. Some food crops may grow all year round, there's no need to draught-proof your home against winter gales, the same clothes can be worn in all months.

So, to answer your question, perhaps it does make us different.