It may seem like work or school flies on December 22, 2003. And it will sort of. That day marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Take this quiz to see how much you know.

‘ 1. What is winter solstice?

‘ 2.
What causes seasons?

‘ 3. What was the Roman festival of Saturnalia?

‘ 4.
What tradition came from the Scandinavian’s winter solstice festival called Jiuleis?

‘ 5. What ancient ruin was built to honor the solstice?

‘ 6.
Many Christmas traditions come from Pagan winter solstice traditions. What custom involves giving presents?

‘ 7. When it’s winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, what is happening in the southern hemisphere?

‘ 8.
What does the word solstice mean?

‘ 9. How did the ancient Greeks observe the winter solstice?

‘ 10.
The winter solstice in 1999 was unique. Why so?

Answers: winter solstice

1. Winter solstice is when the hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun. That’s why daylight is the shortest this day.

They are caused by the rotation of the earth. Earth is tilted away from the sun during the northern hemisphere’s winter, which is why the days are shorter.

3. It was a festival that honored winter solstice where servants ate with their masters. Schools were closed, prisoners were not executed and people paraded around the streets with black faces or masks.

The burning of the Yule log comes from here. Norse men would burn the log to repel dark and cold. The wood was thought to bring good luck to each home.

5. Newgrange in eastern Ireland was built to honor the solstice. It is one acre and has a 60 foot entranceway. It dates about to 3,300 BCE, making it one of the oldest structures in the world.

Romans gave their children earthenware (sigillaria), rings and seals to celebrate Sigillaria.

7. They are celebrating the summer solstice. At that time, night is at its shortest and daytime is at its longest.

It comes from two Latin words “sol,” which means sun, and “sistere” which means to cause to stand still.

9. Their winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. A man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women. Then, Dionysos was reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice was replaced by the killing of a goat and the women became funeral mourners and watchers of the birth.

That year the solstice, full moon and lunar perigee happened on the same date. (Perigee means that the moon’s orbit is closet to earth). Here, the moon was full and at its maximum size. The last time that something like this happened was 1866.

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