4 Things You Never Knew About the Winter Solstice



4 Things You Never Knew About the Winter Solstice

The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year. This event has influenced holidays and traditions around the world, and you can find plenty to see as you travel during this part of the year. Here are four festive facts we bet you never knew about the winter solstice.


Stonehenge Is Designed to Align With the Sunset on the Winter Solstice

Stonehenge Is Designed to Align With the Sunset on the Winter Solstice

Credit: nicolamargaret/ iStock

Sunlight has been important to cultures throughout time. Stories, traditions, and even monuments centering around the sun can be found all over the globe. In fact, sunlight was so important to the Neolithic people that historians believe the winter solstice is what inspired them to build Stonehenge.

This enormous rock structure looks almost haphazardly designed at first glance, but the placement of the stones is anything but random. The Neolithic community at Stonehenge specifically set the structures up to frame the sunset during the winter solstice, as well as the sunrise during the summer solstice.

Archaeological evidence also suggests that large feasts were traditionally held at Stonehenge during the winter solstice. Recent excavations have uncovered the bones of cattle and pigs that were slaughtered approximately nine months after they were born in spring. All of this evidence adds up to indicate that, as far back as 3000 B.C., the winter solstice was a time when communities came together to celebrate with ceremonies and feasts.

Although the largest stone frame isn’t standing anymore, the winter solstice sun would once have aligned perfectly between these stones as it was setting. To this day, people still gather at Stonehenge on the winter solstice. Entry is free, and the site opens at sunrise so that revelers can witness the first glimpse of sunlight over this historic monument on the shortest day of the year.

Traditionally, Many Cultures Believed Evil Spirits Roamed the Earth During This Long Night

Traditionally, Many Cultures Believed Evil Spirits Roamed the Earth During This Long Night

Credit: Sepidehmaleki/ iStock

Since the winter solstice marks the longest night of the year, it’s no surprise that cultures around the world have developed folklore about it. More specifically, many stories center around spirits roaming through the December darkness. In Austria, for instance, the character of Krampus was built around Germanic solstice folklore. This half-demon, half-goat creature is the evil counterpart to Santa Claus — he roams the streets at night, punishing naughty children. Krampus has become a popular figure in pop culture, even inspiring a holiday-themed horror film in 2015.

However, Krampus’s popularity reigns supreme in Austria, where an annual Krampus Run is held in December. During this event, volunteers dress in fur suits, nightmarish masks, and horns. Then they run through the gathered crowds in full costume, jumping over gates and charging at festival-goers. This event is incredibly popular, and it is traditionally believed to ward off other evil spirits that may emerge during the solstice.

Europe is far from the only place with this sort of folklore. In Iran, the ancient celebration of Yalda falls on the winter solstice and celebrates the triumph of light over dark. While the festival itself is a celebration, it contains certain customs — known as Shab-e Chelleh — which are designed to protect people from evil. Revelers were traditionally advised to stay awake all night, so they’d gather with loved ones and eat summer fruits such as pomegranates and watermelons.

It Is the Inspiration for Religious and Secular Traditions in Cultures All Around the World

It Is the Inspiration for Religious and Secular Traditions in Cultures All Around the World

Credit: SylvainB/ Shutterstock

You probably know that the winter solstice inspired many familiar holiday traditions — but you may be surprised to learn the amount of influence this event has held over customs around the world. In China, for example, the winter solstice marks the beginning of the Dong Zhi festival. Dong Zhi celebrates the end of the harvest season and the return of sunlight. Families gather to feast. Traditional meals include tang yuan, or rice balls.

Known locally as Toji, the winter solstice in Japan comes with a particularly cute tradition: hot citrus baths with capybaras. These adorable rodents love the hot springs, which are traditionally infused with yuzu fruit to boost bathers’ immune systems and reduce itchy dry skin. People celebrating the solstice also eat kabocha, a winter squash that would have traditionally been available during the winter months.

In the U.S., the Hopi people celebrate an annual solstice ceremony called Soyal. This ceremony celebrates the sun’s return to summer. The festivities include prayers, ritual dances, storytelling, singing, and gift exchanges. In advance of the solstice, members of the community will often make prayer sticks and kachina dolls to represent nature spirits.

In Chichicastenango, Guatemala, the Santo Tomás festival is held every year during the week leading up to the winter solstice. This is a distinct shift from the traditional Catholic calendar, which holds the St. Thomas feast in July. In fact, Chichicastenango has blended Catholic beliefs into the indigenous Mayan calendar, which holds solstice celebrations during December. The Santo Tomás festival features a large feast, brightly colored clothing, a parade, fireworks, and music. People also perform a “flying pole” dance, in which participants bungee jump off the top of a 100 foot pole.

Category IconGeography

Daily trivia question

Test Your Knowledge!

What is the northernmost capital of continental Europe?

PLAY!Plane icon

It’s Actually a Time, Not a Day

It's Actually a Time, Not a Day

Credit: Yevhenii Chulovskyi/ Shutterstock

Although the winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night, the term itself refers to a specific astronomical moment. In fact, the word “solstice” comes from two Latin words: sol, meaning “sun,” and sistere, meaning “to stand still.” The winter solstice occurs at the exact moment when the sun enters the Tropic of Capricorn. Because of the angle of the earth’s tilt, the sun appears to stand completely still during this moment.

The exact time of the winter solstice changes every year, but it always marks the official beginning of winter — just as, in June, the summer solstice marks the official beginning of summer. After the summer solstice, the sun gets steadily lower and lower in the sky as the earth tilts away from the sun. Once the winter solstice has taken place, the sun remains low in the sky for several days. Then, as the earth begins to tilt again, the sun gradually rises higher in the sky. Also, the days get longer before finally peaking at the summer solstice once again.

What If: What If Your Past Changed

What If Your Past Changed


This article is going to be one that is unlike any of the other stories that I have ever written before. I guess most folks would classify this article as a ‘Si-FY’ peace. What I am going to try to do this evening is to try to get each of us to think, to think outside our normal everyday box that we all live in. My Bride and I have been watching a program on Net-Flix called Continuum about some folks living in the year 2077 who got sent back to the year 2012 and the show is about the ramifications of that event. If you get a chance maybe you could look up this program to see if you might like it. It is not the greatest program that I have ever seen but it does bring up several interesting concepts.


I know that most everyone at some point or even many points during their lives have thought about things they have done, or not done in their own past. Maybe about what if I had taken this job or that job instead of the one that I did take or maybe what if I had asked this other person to marry me instead of the person I did marry. I am sure that you get my point. I am 63 years old now and during my life I have had many crossroads, some of which I regret not taking and others that I am glad I did choose to take. But, any variance off of the path we chose would have caused us personally to have had a different life than the one we have lived.


There are some folks who believe that this time that we are all living in is like a sheet of paper that folds over other time warps here on earth that are going on at the same time as the one we see, feel and touch each day.  Some call this alternate universes in time. Some think that in a sense there are wormholes here on earth that can be stepped through taking us to another date in time. Now I would like you to think about, what if such a thing was actually true and a person or persons could step through that portal whether it be on purpose or by a total accident. Now think about this concept, what if this did happen to someone but not ourselves. What if that person or persons effected our life, lets say even just ten years ago. It could be in a way that we would have never even seen coming, it could be a person that we never did nor would ever meet but something they did changed the course of some other peoples lives including our own. Think about going to sleep tonight and waking up to a total different reality. Lets say we are healthy, wealthy and self absorbed when we went to bed but woke up sleeping in a cardboard box in an alley, or maybe under a bridge, all of this because of something that someone else did or didn’t do. You could also reverse that order, you could have gone to bed under a bridge and awoke in a mansion with billions of dollars to spend. Go back further in time, what if your parents never met and you were never born, you went to bed tonight and never woke up because you never existed. Just food for ones brain to feed upon.


Personally I do believe in there being a Supreme Being who can and does control time as we know it. I also believe that there are many planets among the trillions of rocks in the sky that hold other life forms, have I ever met any? Not that I am aware of. But wouldn’t it really be odd for God to create trillions of planets and only put life one one? That doesn’t even make any sense. If there is such a thing as time warps here on this planet I personally am very glad that it is God who has control of all such things. Think about it for a moment, what if scientist of any time could walk in and out of time as we know it. Do you not think that the governments would be the ones who would take the control levers of such an event? Another view is that I am glad that it is God who controls time other wise what if another very powerful being with the powers of an Angel like Satan was able to manipulate time, we would all be dead or serving him as slaves. As I said at the beginning of this letter to you tonight, this is all just conjecture for the purpose of stimulating the neurons in our brains. But, WHAT IF?



7 Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time



7 Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time is the biannual event that gives us an extra hour of daylight during the summer evenings but inevitably interrupts our sleep schedule. We all know to “spring forward” our clocks in March and “fall back” in November — but what about the origins of this practice?

Read on to discover how daylight saving time was first adopted in the U.S. and how other countries utilize it.

Germany Was the First Country to Adopt Daylight Saving Time

Credit: serts/iStock

Germany started the daylight saving time trend on April 30, 1916, according to Date and Time, when they turned their clocks ahead by one hour in an attempt to save fuel during World War I. Losing an hour cut back on the amount of artificial light that was consumed. Many countries followed suit quickly but then reverted back to standard time after the war. Daylight saving time temporarily returned to most of Europe during World War II as well.

The U.S. Waited Until 1966 to Make Daylight Saving Time Official

Credit: f11photo/iStock

The United States also adopted daylight saving time during both world wars and allowed states to decide on their own to continue it after World War II, according to the History Channel. This caused confusion and the federal government decided that things should be standard throughout the country. Daylight saving time wasn’t actually put into law until 1966 with the passage of the Uniform Time Act, which also defined the current time zones, according to National Geographic.

Not All U.S. States Participate

Credit: Bill_Vorasate/iStock

The entire state of Hawaii does not have daylight saving time, because the amount of daylight throughout the year doesn’t vary much due to the state’s proximity to the equator, according to World Atlas. Along with Hawaii, most of Arizona does not practice daylight saving time due to its extremely hot temperatures during the summer. Residents would rather enjoy cool evenings when the sun is down. However, according to National Geographic, the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona does observe daylight saving time, causing it to have a one-hour time difference from the rest of the state for part of the year.

Daylight Saving Time Technically Begins at 2 A.M. EST in the U.S.

Credit: vladacanon/iStock

Although most of us set our clocks forward or back before going to sleep, the official time to make the change in the U.S. is at 2 a.m. EST on the selected date, according to Time and Date. The selected time of 2 a.m. was originally perceived as the easiest, least disruptive option because most people were thought to be asleep.

Countries Begin Daylight Saving Time on Different Dates

Credit: Fernando Gutierrez Ortega/Shutterstock

Currently, only 40% of countries use daylight saving time, according to Time and Date, and many do not begin and end on the same dates. For example, the U.S. begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. In most parts of Mexico, it begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the last Sunday in October. Check out a detailed chart of what countries observe daylight saving time and when.

Countries Near the Equator Don’t Need It

Credit: Starcevic/iStock

Countries near the equator, like Colombia and Uganda, experience almost the same amount of daylight hours no matter the season, so the need to maximize daylight isn’t necessary in those locations, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, some countries near the equator do choose to participate anyway, like Chile and sections of Brazil.

More U.S. States Are Trying to Get Rid of Daylight Saving Time

Credit: sara_winter/iStock

Is your state next? Following Hawaii and Arizona, more U.S. states are asking to do away with daylight saving time. According to ABC News, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and possibly New Hampshire are all on the list. Florida is the closest state to completing this process, passing the Sunshine Protection Act in 2018 — but Congress still needs to approve it, according to Spectrum News 13.

Senator Chuck Schumer to Unveil Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana at the Federal Level



Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Updated: April 19, 2018 5:39 PM ET

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is planning to introduce a bill on Friday that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, he said in a new interview with VICE News.

“The legislation is long overdue based on, you know, a bunch of different facts. I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long,” Schumer said in a video clip shared by VICE News on Thursday. “Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”

Play Video


Matt House, Schumer’s communications director, said in a tweet that the Senator will unveil the bill on Friday — 4/20, a day that has become a celebration of marijuana. House teased the interview with a photo of Schumer signing a bong for VICE’s Shawna Thomas, who conducted the interview. The full interview will air at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on HBO.

Schumer had previously been hesitant to support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. “It’s a tough issue. We talk about the comparison to alcohol — and obviously alcohol is legal, and I’m hardly a prohibitionist — but it does a lot of damage,” Schumer said in an MSNBC interview in 2014. “The view I have — and I’m a little cautious on this — is let’s see how the state experiments work.”

“I’d be a little cautious here at the federal level and see the laboratories of the states — see their outcomes before we make a decision,” Schumer added.

Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and six states have followed since then. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has begun to crack down on the marijuana industry this year, angering lawmakers and cannabis growers in states where it is legal.

Schumer hinted Thursday that he has changed his mind on the issue, tweeting, “People can change.”

Autism Rates Have Stabilized in U.S. Children



Getty Images


January 2, 2018
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Rates of autism spectrum disorder among children in the U.S. remained stable from 2014 to 2016, according to new research—a change from previous studies that found steady increases over the past two decades.

The new research letter, published in JAMA, looked at survey responses from a nationally representative sample of more than 30,000 children, ages 3 to 17, and their families. From 2014 to 2016, adults in each household were asked if a doctor had ever told them that their child had autism, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder or autism spectrum disorder. Data from the study was then adjusted to account for differences in people’s age, gender and ethnicity.

The researchers found that in 2014, 2.24% of participating children were reported to have an autism spectrum disorder. That number rose only slightly in 2015 and 2016, to 2.41% and 2.58%, respectively—an increase that was not statistically significant.

Autism rates did vary by sub-group. Over the three-year period, 3.54% of boys were reported to have an autism spectrum disorder, compared to 1.22% of girls. Prevalence was 1.78% in Hispanic children, 2.36% in black children and 2.71% in white children.

The overall estimate for autism prevalence among children in the analysis—2.4%—is higher than another recent estimate, from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, of 1.46%. The discrepancy may be explained by differences in study design, the authors note in their report. For example, the new study asked parents if their child has received a diagnosis, while the previous study looked at education and health-care evaluations.

Play Video

The current study did not gather information about possible causes for autism and how those factors may (or may not) have changed over time. And, although the survey the researchers used has been going on since the 1960s, the question about autism was changed in 2014—so it cannot be used to estimate change in autism prevalence rates during earlier years.

Several large studies have suggested that autism rates have risen steadily in the last 20 years, but this new report suggests that rates may be leveling off. The ADDM Network’s estimated rates also plateaued between 2010 and 2012 (after increasing roughly 123% between 2002 and 2010), but then jumped 30% from 2012 to 2014.

Changes in diagnostic criteria, an increase in public awareness and more children being referred to physicians have all been suggested as possible causes for the previously documented rise in autism rates, the authors wrote in their report. So have potential changes in genetic and environmental risk factors. “Continued monitoring of the prevalence and investigation of changes in risk factors are warranted,” they concluded.


(Spiritual Poem) Kodak Moment Of The Soul



Snap shot of our Souls taken this moment in our time

Picture taken, was it by the Angel of Death, or of life

People scan our chips so they say that they know us

Smiling eyes hiding in the shadows blade firmly in hand

Having a phony acidic smile pasted on their soulless grin



We have all chosen to be breathing in this time and space

Our future is now, last breath taken is now historically placed

Tomorrow is grace filled if inside ourselves we choose it to be

Take your mirror, look close, it shows our Souls hiding place



Ever been ashamed to your bones for things you’ve done

This point in time, this is the only guarantee that we have

Tomorrow, will we have respect or shame for our today

Will this snap shot of today define or end our tomorrows

X-ray of our Soul, will it be posted with a Halo of a Flame

South Korea’s President Says the Agreement With Japan on Historic Sex Slavery Has ‘Serious Flaws’




10:58 PM EST

(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the country’s 2015 agreement with Japan to settle a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into wartime sexual slavery was seriously flawed.

Moon’s statement in which he vows unspecified follow-up measures to meet the victims’ demands potentially throws the future of the deal in doubt, two years after both countries declared it as “final and irreversible.”

The statement came a day after a state-appointed panel concluded that Seoul’s previous conservative government failed to properly communicate with the victims before reaching the deal.

The panel also said parts of the deal were not made public, including Japanese demands that the South Korean government avoid using the term “sexual slavery” and provide a specific plan to remove a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy. South Korea in response said it would formerly refer to the victims as “victims of Japanese military comfort stations” but didn’t make a clear promise to remove the statue, according to the panel.

“It has been confirmed that the 2015 comfort women negotiation between South Korea had serious flaws, both in process and content,” Moon said in a statement read out by his spokesman.

“Despite the burden of the past agreement being a formal promise between governments that was ratified by the leaders of both countries, I, as president and with the Korean people, once again firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women.”

Under the deal, Japan agreed to provide cash payment for the dwindling number of surviving victims, while South Korea said it will try to resolve Japanese grievance over the statue in front of the embassy.

The deal came under heavy criticism in South Korea where many thought the government settled for far too less. Japan has been angry that South Korea hasn’t taken specific steps to remove the statue and similar monuments in other places in the country, insisting there has been a clear understanding to do so.

The Foreign Ministry said government officials will hold extensive discussions with victims and experts before deciding whether to pursue changes to the deal. Japanese officials have said a renegotiation is unacceptable.

Some experts see it as unlikely that Moon’s government will spark a full-blown diplomatic row with Japan by scrapping the deal when the allies face pressing needs to form a strong united front against North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.


Ukraine And Russian ‘Rebels’ Conduct Large Prisoner Swap



(HORLIVKA, Ukraine) — Ukrainian authorities and Russian-backed separatist rebels on Wednesday conducted the biggest exchange of prisoners since the start of an armed conflict in the country’s east and a sign of progress in the implementation of a 2015 peace deal.

Rebels from the self-proclaimed separatist republics in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions handed over 74 captives, while Ukraine‘s government delivered 233. Some had been held for more than a year.

Larisa Sargan, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, said on Facebook that one of the 74 prisoners released by the separatists indicated she would stay in Donetsk.

Carrying their belonging, the prisoners were turned exchanged in the town of Horlivka and the village of Zaitseve, in an area dividing the separatist regions and Ukraine. One held a cat.

“I’m out of hell. I have survived,” said Yevhen Chudentsov, who served with one of Ukraine’s volunteer battalions in the east and was taken prisoner in February 2015.

Chudentsov said he faced threats and beatings while in rebel custody, and his front teeth were knocked out. He was initially sentenced to capital punishment, which was later changed to 30 years in prison. He said after his release in Horlivka that he would join the Ukrainian military again.

The exchange was supervised by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a trans-Atlantic security and rights group that has deployed monitors to eastern Ukraine.

The OSCE welcomed the swap and urged the two sides to build on the momentum from it.

“Allowing such a significant number of people, who have been held on both sides, to return home before the New Year and Orthodox Christmas is a very welcome development,” said Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, the OSCE chairman. “Today’s exchange is not only a humanitarian act but also a helpful step in confidence-building.”

Ukraine was supposed to release 306 people, but dozens chose to stay in Ukraine or had been freed earlier, said Viktor Medvedchuk, who monitored the exchange on the Ukrainian side.

Many of the captives were not combatants. Some were activists and bloggers who were charged with spying or treason.

Anatoly Slobodyanik, one of the prisoners traded by Ukraine, said he didn’t want to go to the rebel side and would return to his home town of Odessa.

“I’m not guilty of anything and I don’t want to go to the other side,” he said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko praised the Ukrainian prisoners held by the rebels for their endurance.

“I’m grateful to all those who remained loyal to Ukraine in those unbearable conditions,” Poroshenko said while greeting the free captives. “They have shown their adherence to the principles of freedom and independence.”

The Ukrainian leader also hailed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for helping organize the exchange.

Merkel and Macron welcomed the swap, saying in a joint statement that they “encourage the parties to the conflict also to enable the exchange of the remaining prisoners, grant the International Committee of the Red Cross full access and support the ICRC’s search for missing people.”

The simmering conflict between the separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

The 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany and signed in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, envisioned a prisoner exchange, but the two sides argued continuously over lists of captives and only a few dozen had been traded prior to Wednesday. Separatist leaders and a Ukrainian government representative finally agreed to the exchange last week, with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church acting as mediator.

Merkel and Macron emphasized that the exchange and a recommitment to a comprehensive cease-fire “should also serve to build up confidence between the parties to the conflict, also with a view to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.”

Elderly Couple Caught With $336,000 Worth of Marijuana That Was ‘For Christmas Presents’



Processed marijuana is pictured in Ferndale, Calif., on October 22, 2016.
Processed marijuana is pictured in Ferndale, Calif., on October 22, 2016.
Katy Steinmetz for TIME


2:16 PM EST

An elderly couple pulled over in Nebraska with 60 pounds of marijuana had a holiday explanation for police officers.

“They said the marijuana was for Christmas presents,” Lt. Paul Vrbka of York County Sheriff’s Department told the York News-Times. He estimated the value of the weed was approximately $336,000.

Patrick Jiron, 80, and Barbara Jiron, 83, were pulled over Tuesday when deputies noticed the vehicle was driving over the center line of the road and Patrick failed to signal, the News-Times reported.

Vrbka told the paper the officers could immediately smell marijuana when they approached the car. They conducted a probable-cause search with the assistance of a canine unit and discovered the marijuana in boxes under the pickup truck’s topper.

The Jirons said they were from northern California and were headed to Vermont. They were both taken into custody.

On Thursday, the News-Times reported that Patrick was jailed on charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver without a drug tax stamp. (Nebraska law requires marijuana dealers to purchase a stamp from its Department of Revenue to prove that the state’s drug tax has been paid.)

Patrick has since posted 10% of a $100,000 bond and has been released, according to the paper. His wife, Barbara, was only cited in the case “due to some medical issues,” Vrbka said.


She's a Frustrated Traveler

Shout out to YOLO!

Diary of a Gay Dad. I am a full time dad to five young children.

People family relationships children cooking jam making and being a gay dad

المعلومات في جميع المجلات

هذا الموقع يمكنه الكلام في ما يدور في العالم

The Common Sense Theologian

Theology, Politics, Life, Education, Family, Home, Kids, Marriage, Outdoors

India Travel BLog

A Blog about Indian Tourism

Danny's wor(l)d

have a great read here!!

%d bloggers like this: