Summer Solstice: Deers break antlers

December 26th, 2011
by Jo Law

On December 22nd, 2011 at 05.30am, the sun reached the southermost declination of 23.5º and went no further. On the Tropic of Capricon, the sun was directly overhead. Regions south of the Antratic Circle (66.5º south latitude) experienced 24 hour of daylight accompanied by the ‘midnight’ sun. It was the December solstice. In the northern hemisphere, it was the shortest day of the year after which the hours of daylight would once again increase.

It has long been custom for cultures to observe the shortest day of the year with some form of festivities. Chinese and east Asian cultures celebrate winter solstice as 冬至 or ‘the limit of winter’ when traditionally families gather over a meal. Brumalia in Roman times preceded Christmas as the mid-winter festival.

In the southern hemisphere Christmas becomes the mid-summer festival. Accessible to the inland Sydney’s western suburbs, Austinmer beach is the site of choice for many family feasts during these weeks of festivities. Tents of various sizes are set up where families and clan relax in the shades; people of all ages, shapes, and sizes fill the tidal pools; many languages are spoken; and different cultural customs can be seen.

The terminte alates (the winged reproductive caste) chose today to leave their nests in search of new beginnings. As we walked home from an afternoon swim, we made our way through swarms of tiny insects that had satuated the warm humid air.

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