SOLSTICE

We’re just past the winter solstice. What a misnomer! What a fraud! We know better than that.

Our knowledge of things has increased vastly since the 13th century when this word entered our language. We can blame the French who made up the word when they were still dominant in Britain. They made it up from the Latin sol + stice, – a stoppage of the sun. We’ll have to forgive them; they did it in compliance with the belief of the day.

But times have changed. We all know that sol means sun, from solar systems, solar heating, solarium plain enough there, but solstice! What have we here?

We find that ending-stice in Armistice, Armistice Day, literally the day arms were laid down, 11th November 1918, and fighting ceased. A memorable day indeed ending the ‘Great War’, and honoured every year since.

So let’s look at solstice. It is in fact, either the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, for us, 22nd of December; or the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, for us about 21st June. It’s the opposite in the other hemisphere. For earlier folk it seemed the sun actually stopped at the time of change. But it doesn’t. We need a new name to replace solstice.

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