Saturday, 22 December 2012


Yesterday was Winter Solstice Day, as if you did not know it already. I would have loved to bring you a picture of the sun at midday, but this proved impossible, for two reasons:

Firstly, my balcony is facing due North, so I would have to venture outside to get the shot. Secondly, to no one's surprise, the sun is usually not visible at all at this time of the year. And true to this tradition, the sky was covered all day yesterday, with snowflakes tumbling down in a lazy fashion, inviting us to stay home and prepare for the big party on 24 December.

So, instead, I chose to take a picture at midnight, to show you how the Northern Sky is shaping up here in Stockholm at the darkest day of the year. As you can see, it is not really black; street lights and other city lights in the center are being reflected by the cloudy sky, warranting a dark rosy shine to bless the snowy surroundings.

This year Solstice Day has received a lot of unwarranted attention. People unfamiliar with Mayan time reckoning have wrongly deduced that judgement day would fall on 21 December 2012. This is of course a bad misunderstanding of the Mayan way of counting years. In our Christian tradition, we count the years in centuries and millennia, whereas the Mayans counted them in batches of 400s. This year marks the turn of the latest four hundredth, just as we noted the turn of the latest millenium way back in year 2000. Festivities are in order rather than dreading a (presumedly) imminent end of the world!

Come to think of it, there has always been, and will always be, a dark longing among us humans for the world to end. In Christianity, Judgement Day was foreseen already for the year 1000, but every new generation born is looking forward to its own demise. The most recent example is provided by Harold Egbert Camping who predicted that 21 October 2011 would mean the end of us all, except for those saved by Christ on Judgement Day (21 May). I met a disciple of his at UC Berkeley in May 2010 and had some interesting discussions with this fiery man of sulphur and brimstone. His portrait can be seen here:

I was astounded to meet this man again on the same spot two years later, in May 2012. His message was essentially unchanged. I was intrigued and asked him how on Earth he could proceed his proselyti-zing after having been proved wrong the first time around. He readily admitted that he had erred two years earlier, due to a miscalculation of the holy numbers in the Old Testament, but that he had corrected his mistake and now was convinced that Judgement Day would occur on 21 May 2013. So there is still hope for those of you who prefer the World to end, rather than Humanity to better its ways. 

For those of us, who nurture a more festive outlook for the next few days (and years), let me show you a nice view of Hammarby Sound, taken a few days ago; in fact, the last day when the sun was shining, before hiding itself behind a cover of fluffy snow flakes. 

With this sunny view in mind, I am encouraged to wish you



Eva said...

Dear Emil,
Thank you for showing us your beautiful pictures of the church on top of the hill and the wintery Hammary Sound! At the moment the judgement day seems so far away, at least I hope so, and I would prefer to concentrate my mind on the beauty of the landscape around us and enjoy the festive season with family and friends. I wish all of you who read Emil's blog spot a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year!
Kind regards

Anonymous said...

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and as the world still will remain for some time, I will now dare to buy a new calendar for 2013.

Best regards,
Ann-Kersti and Harry

Anonymous said...

Hej Emil!
Mörkt är det, men julstök och stearinljus påminner om det kommande ljuset. Till dess ha en skön jul och ett strålande nytt år!
Göran W

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Emil!
I received your lovely set of essays and Tak a mikka for that.

Today we have serious rain in Berkeley. I imagine they are getting all the snow they want up at Tahoe and are immensely grateful for it.

On Christmas Day I will be hosting a crab bash for friends. We sit around with our hammers and whack lovely steamed Dungeness crab and drink up nice Chablis. Wish you were here to join us!

Have a merry holiday, Emil.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it will, but not yet. We'll have time to finish our coffee first.
Have some nice holidays. God Jul önskar vi Dig.
HC, Isolde och Andy

Anonymous said...

Hallo Emil
Vielen Dank für Deine Grüße und wir haben auch an Dich gedacht.
Wir kommen gerade von Stegersbach zurück, wo wir die Weihnachten verbrachten; bei 14 Grad Wärme und strahlendem Sonnenschein spazierten wir am Heiligen Abend nach Stegersbach und weiter nach Ollersdorf, zur Christi Himmelfahrtskirche mit dem Kripperl und Marienbrunnen.
Dort genossen wir Glühwein und Weihnachsgebäck, und betrachteten einen herrlichen Sonnenuntergang, gefolgt von einem Harpenkonzert, von einer englischen Harpenspielerin, die den schwedischen Emmawalzer spielte.
Der Gastgeber, Hans Haberl vom Larimar hatte auch eine Gruppe aus Bratislava für den hl. Abend engagiert und lud alle zur Mette nach Stegersbach ein.
Heute früh, bei der Heimfahrt holten wir noch Heilwasser vom Marienbrunnen und sind jetzt wieder erholt zuhause, von wo wir Dich alle grüßen.


Anonymous said...

God Fortsättning på det nya året och hoppas det blir ett riktigt bra år!
Kram "Lendas-Ylva"