By the time you read this, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, will have passed. That means the days are slowly stretching in length. The rebirth and renewal of springtime is coming, but not all at once — bit by bit.
Multiple cultures have celebrated the return of the sun during this time of year. But the astronomical start date of winter, based on the earth’s position to the sun, was Tuesday, the winter solstice. Meanwhile, the meteorological start date, based on weather patterns and temperatures, was Dec. 1.
Before Roman dictators set the year’s start date for Jan. 1, an earlier Roman calendar set the year’s start in March. That earlier calendar had ten months, six of 30 days and four of 31 days, making a total of 304 days and leaving an unaccounted-for gap of time each December, according to Brittanica.com.
I like the idea of floating through time during this season. Life slips away from us as we constantly remind ourselves to “live in the moment,” as the saying goes. If time, as a concept, was permitted to gradually slip away from mind, would the pressure to live in the present fade away, too?
I think the disagreement throughout history about when the new year begins illustrates why it’s best to just observe what the world around us is saying to us.
As the days gradually grow and we inch toward spring during another cycle around the sun, we may notice how we, too, change little by little, but mostly, we follow cycles. And we do best when we achieve balance while we follow those patterns – if we gift ourselves the rest we need when we work, and the healing we need when we are hurt.
Instead of attempting to reinvent a new version of myself this New Year’s Day, I’m going to try to remember that nature changes gradually, but also constantly. I’ll remind myself that like the earth, it’s natural to follow old patterns.
But I’ll also remind myself that like the earth, I am changing constantly, if imperceptibly. I, too, can make small changes slowly. A little more sunlight shines every day, then you look outside to find the world in bloom.
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