Friday, September 24, 2010


   A solstice, as defined by the dictionary is "a furthest or culminating point; a turning point".  The winter solstice occurs when the sun is furthest from the celestial equator (a theoretical projection of the earth's equator into space).
   Technically, the winter solstice lasts for only the instant of time during which the sun is at its furthest.  However, "winter solstice" typically refers to the entire day.  In the Northern Hemisphere the day of winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and the point at which days begin to lengthen.  This usually occurs on the 21st or 22nd of December.
   There are much more fascinating aspects to the winter solstice, however.  For thousands of year the winter solstice has been associated with religious and philosophical importance. Around 46 BC, the 25th of December was established as the winter solstice.  At that time the Julian Calender (named after Julius Ceasar who first introduced it) was in used and, when the Gregorian calendar was introduced (around 1582) the date was changed to the 21st.

The Oak King of Winter Solstice

   In ancient Japan the winter solstice was believed to be the time when the sun goddess Amateras emerged from her cave.  The Incas held winter solstice celebrations in honor of Init, the sun god.  In Germany, the winter solstice was a time of celebration for Hertha, the Norse goddess of light.  The Roman celebration of Sol Invictus, the Roman deity of the sun was held on December 25th and represented the rebirth of the sun.
   Interestingly, there are many parallels between these celebrations and Christmas.  Traditionally, Christians celebrate Christmas as the day of the birth of the Son of God.  There are more than just phonetic similarities, however.  In John chapter 9, verse 5, the Holy Bible refers to Jesus Christ as "the light of the world".  The Christmas celebration of the birth of the "light of the world" coincides with the metaphorical, annual, "rebirth of the sun".
   Some Christian fundamentalists shy away from celebrating Christmas due to its concurrence with the Roman celebration of Sol Invictus.  However, it is an oversimplification to say that Christmas started as a pagan tradition.  The word "Christmas" is derived from "Christ's mass" and first appeared in 1038.  But, Christian celebrations of Jesus' birth began long before---sometime around 200 AD.  The date of December 25th coincided well with the celebration of the Epiphany (a January 6th celebration of the magi's visit to Jesus) as well as being exactly nine months from the traditional date of the Incarnation.  The winter solstice has, for thousands of years, been celebrated as a time of new beginning and rebirth.  Whether the Christmas tradition stems directly from winter solstice celebrations or if the two merely coincide will most likely never be fully known.  Either way, the winter solstice is a time for reflection and rebirth---something nearly everyone agrees the world is in need of.


   Chocolatre lovers come in two categories.  One-you love chocolate so much but feel like your being naughty when you divulge your pleasure in eating it (I tell my wife that I love it soooooo much! I want to marry it!!).  Two-Must have it at all cost and could care less if it adds a pound or more.  It's worth it (kind of also goes with the marrying part again!!).
   Regardless, you're a chocolate lover and you should read these factrs about your forever obsession.  While you're at it, grab a Snickers Bar, you'll need the extra peanut protein as you expend precious energy reading.
   Mel Gibson said: "AFter about 20 year of marriage, I'm finally starting to scratch the surface of that one thing women want and I think the answer lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate."

Fun and Interesting Facts about Chocolate:
  •    Contrary to rumor, the Baby Ruth candy bar created in 1920 was not named for the legendary baseball player, but for President Grover Cleveland's new baby daughter Ruth.
  • Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "Psycho", which actually took 7 days to shoot.
  • Chocolate has over 500 flavor components, more than twice the amount found in strawberry and vanilla.
  • U.S. chocolate manufacturers use about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make chocolate.
  • 65 percent of American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate.
  • Chocolate is a Vegetable: Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans.  We all know a bean is a vegetable.
  •  1940: The Mars Company invents M&M's for soldiers going to war in World War II.
  • The Aztecs believed chocolate can cause a man to fall in love and they weren't that far off.  Chocolate contains pyenyl ethylamine (PEA), a natural substance that is believed to stimulate the same reaction in the body as falling in love.
  • It's been found that it's a myth that chocolate aggravates acne.
  • Chocolate contains the stimulants Theo bromine and caffeine, which can reduce stress and give you a sense of mild euphoria, or happiness.
  • The melting point of cocoa butter is just below the human body temperature (98.6 degrees)-which is why it literally melts in your mouth.
  • Chocolate can be lethal to dogs.  Theobromine, an ingredient that stimulates the cardiac muscle and the central nervous system, causes chocolate's toxicity.  About two ounces of milk chocolate can be poisonous for a 10 pound puppy.
  • It is reported that Napoleon carried chocolate with him on his military campaigns, and always ate it when he needed quick energy.
  • The word "chocolate" comes from the Aztec word "xocolatl", which means "bitter water".
  • On the fourth visit of Christopher Columbus to the Americas, he came across cocoa beans, which he presented to the Spanish court.  King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, however, dismissed chocolate as a bizarre tribal concoction.
  • Chocolate manufacturers use 20 percent of the world's peanut resources.
  • Approximately, 40 percent of the world's almonds are used to manufacture chocolate.
  • When it comes to light versus dark, a little more than 25 percent of American choco-holics prefer the dark stuff and 71 percent favor milk chocolate (and the other 4 percent really don't care that just want their chocolate no matter what!!)
  • Three chocolate companies dominate the industry: Cadbury, Mars, and Nestle.
  • Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Norway are countries with the highest consumption or addiction to chocolate.
  • Appearance, aroma, snap, texture, flavor and aftertaste are 6 criterion to evaluate chocolate.
  • More than, 22 percent of chocolate indulgences happen between the hours of 8 pm and 12 am.
  • One pound of milk chocolate contains the following nutritional values: Calories-2300, Fat-140 grams, Sodium-370 grams, Carbohydrates: 270 grams, Cholesterol: 100 milligrams, Protein: 31 grams.