Posts Tagged Winter solstice

Holiday astronomy: From Saturn to the moon to the Star of Bethlehem

The last week and a half have absolutely flown by. The lack of posts is a direct result of my solid immersion in Christmas happenings. My brother and his new girlfriend arrived on the 17th, which was also the first day of Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival known for its (pretend) reversal of social roles between masters and servants.

It was ironic; until now, it was always me, the older sister, who was bringing a partner home. And it was always a special occasion when I came home from college. This time, though, roles were definitely reversed. Now, I’m essentially the child “still at home” since I live near my parents and my brother traveled from a time zone away for the first time in several months. And my relationship isn’t the new shiny thing anymore. I’m not the one more or less breaking ground. His and my paths are so distinct they’re impossible to compare. I think this is a good thing–it’s just interesting how my brother’s and my roles in the family have changed, and those roles don’t “switch back” after a week.

Anyway, I was hoping to attend some winter solstice celebrations in Madison, as Unitarians are an excellent source for this kind of thing and we have a healthy population of them. But most of the celebrations happened the Friday evening before the Tuesday solstice, and I was at my parents’ place. I was then hoping to go to the lunar eclipse party the night of the 20th at the UW Space Place. The eclipse was supposed to be the only one visible this year and since it was happening on the winter solstice, it was the northernmost lunar eclipse possible–an event that apparently hasn’t happened (or been visible?) in 456 years. I was pretty stoked for this, but unfortunately, Mother Earth put the kibash on my solstice plans. It was super cloudy in anticipation of snow the next day, and the party was canceled since visibility was essentially zero.

I struck out on some of the biggest holidays of the winter season last week, but I certainly made up for it during the King Kong of holidays in the U.S. Having my brother home from the Navy was a pretty big deal. We cut down a Christmas tree the day after P got here, and we all scrambled for last-minute presents. Mom busted out a serious variety of treats and meals. We spent Christmas Eve with the family of one of my brother’s friends, which was interesting. Spending such a family-oriented day on someone else’s turf wouldn’t have been my choice, but it worked out, and then we went to a church service with my brother in full dress blues. Christmas Day was pretty relaxed; my uncle came down and we pretty much spent the day eating, opening gifts, eating again, watching some TV and eating one more time. Can’t complain!

But Christmas 2010 is now another Christmas past, and as everyone else recovers from the holidaze (the chaos between Thanksgiving and Christmas), I’m gathering my endurance for the ever on-going quest for daily holidays.

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