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
A Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!
May all your dreams come true!