Solstice

"The Shortening Winter's Day is Near a Close" by Joseph Farquharson

Origin: Latin
Gender: Unisex
Meaning: "Sun Standing Still"
Pronunciation: SOL-stis
Other Forms: N/A

Happy Winter Solstice everyone! This name has recently become a guilty pleasure of mine, and I think it would just be fabulous, especially in the middle spot, for a baby born around the solstice! It is certainly hippy-dippy, but that's half of the charm.

A solstice is an event in which the sun appears to reach either its most northerly or southerly arc, also known as the sun's path. It occurs twice a year, once on June 21st and later on December 21st. During the summer solstice we receive the most sunlight and in the winter solstice we receive the least, which in turn leads to the longest night of the year. Culturally, both solstices were of great import, as with most astronomical events, and could be considered in the mating of animals and the sowing of crops. In Sweden, the summer solstice is celebrated during the holiday of Midsummer, one of their largest, with shops closing and festivities to rival Christmas. Sun Gods were thought to be "born" or "reborn" during the winter Solstice, and the themes of life, death, and rebirth were extremely popular. Some cultures even saw it as the day the year is reborn. 

The Pagan festival of Yule, or Yultide, starts on the winter sosltice and ends on January 1st. "Hogamany", the Scotch celebration of the last day of the year, was thought to originally occur on December 21st, as well. It includes a tradition of "first-footing", starting directly after midnight, where people try to be the first person over a threshold, usually at a friend's or neighbor's house. They would then give a symbolic gift, with popular choices being salt, coal, shortbread or even whisky, all with different luck bringing abilities. The first foot themselves are said to set the luck for the rest of the year, with tall, dark-haired men being preferable.

Solstice itself comes from the Latin sol, meaning "sun", and sistere, "to stand still", referring to how the sun appears to stand still during its decline. 

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