Winter Solstice 2012

Today is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all due to Earth’s tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21. Some predicted that today would also mark Earth’s doomsday, thanks to a longstanding rumor that the Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012. Even without an apocalypse, the solstice has been an auspicious day since ancient times. Countless cultural and religious traditions mark the winter solstice; it’s no coincidence that so many holidays surround the first day of winter. The solstices occur twice a year (around December 21 and June 21) because Earth is tilted by an average of 23.5 degrees as it orbits the sun—the same phenomenon that drives the seasons. Being the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice is essentially the year’s darkest day, but it’s not the coldest. Because the oceans are slow to heat and cool, in December the seas still retain some warmth from summer, delaying the coldest of winter days for another month and a half. Similarly, summer doesn’t hit its heat peak until August, a month or two after the summer solstice. Winter Solstice’s Christmas connection Scholars aren’t exactly sure of the date of Jesus Christ’s birthday, the first Christmas. “In the early years of the Christian church, the calendar was centered around Easter,” George Washington University’s Yeide said. “Nobody knows exactly where and when they began […]

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Christmas 2011

Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, on December 25. It remains one of the most festive holidays in the world, seen as a time of giving and sharing and of course presents. However, December 25 is a business day in Baghdad, so banks & offices are open. The Christmas tree of Dortmund is the largest in the world and is built with a scaffold, covered with 1,700 Norway spruces, 40,000 lights and is 45m (148 ft) high. Nearly every major city in the world decorates huge Christmas trees, while children all over wait eagerly for gifts from Santa Claus. Merry Christmas!

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