Tips for the first day of Winter

If you live north of the Equator, get ready to say goodbye to fall and give a big welcome to the favorite season of kids and skier’s — winter.

With temperatures steadily dropping and the days growing shorter, the promise of holiday fun and family gatherings, the exitement of Bowl games and snow sports are winter’s answer to the uncheerful thoughts of heating bills, and slippery footing.

The mid December solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2009 at 9:47 AM PST

While the beginning of summer marks the longest day of the year, the winter solstice brings the shortest day – and the longest night! – of the year.

The reason for the different seasons in the two hemispheres is that while the earth rotates around the sun, it also spins on its axis, which is tilted. Because of this tilt, the Northern Hemisphere receives less direct sunlight and the Southern Hemisphere receives more (and vice versa) depending on the season.

To many, however, December was thought of as the most dreaded time of year, when the lack of heat and light and a limited supply of food spelled danger. The cold was stark and the darkness seemed perpetual.

Even today, modern science points to a mental disorder that is now officially recognized as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder that results in moodiness or depression during the winter months due to the lack of sunlight.

The cure? Turn up the wattage! — indeed, the use of artificial light is the only known treatment for SAD.

Yet as the old wise man once said, it truly is darkest before the dawn. After December 21, the light slowly begins its inevitable return, and the days begin to grow blessedly longer, flipping the switch to ON for the inevitable countdown to spring

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