Wintersonnenwende – auf der Norhalbkugel der Erde am 21. oder 22. Dezember. This year 2011, it is the 22nd and began at 05:30 UTC.
Stillstand der Sonne, Heliostasion, findet zweimal im Jahr statt, eine Sonnenwende and Solstice are all derived from the Latin: Solstitium, from sal, Sun, and sistere, to stand still, which describes the phenomena of the Suns noon elevation that appears to be the same for several days as if it has stopped before beginning its gradual arc back to it’s other pole.
The Earths tilt is 23.5 degrees and as it orbits, on the day of the Winter Solstice the Sun is lined directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. The northern hemisphere will have it’s longest night of the year. It has always been so. It is also true that after the darkness there will be light. Yin and Yang.
In China, Japan, Viet Nam, Korea and in other Asian countries they will be celebrating on solar terms with Dongzhi Festivals. They celebrate the balance and harmony of the world, knowing that there is a limit to the longest of nights and then there will be new light. The origins of the festival trace back to a Tao philosophy of balance in the world. Yin/Yang. When decay has reached it’s climax, recovery will set in.
These cultures have knowledge of ancient cosmic principles that have philosophical and political merit and can be found written in the Book of Changes. Hexagram 24 in the ancient text of the I Ching has three broken lines in the upper trigram (Kun) field=earth and in the lower trigram, two broken lines with a solid line below (zhen) shake=thunder. This hexagon is Fu. It is related to this season and associated with a returning.
All people everywhere recognize the solstice time of year. Not only today but back through the antiquity of all lands. Candles are lit and prayers are said by all. There is another thing that all these people in all these different cultures around the world share in common. They join together, family and friend for story and song, a bit of good cheer, to comfort each other the dark of the year.