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SOLSTICE is the biannual date at which the sun reaches its maximum height or minimum declination, marked by the longest and shortest days of the year.

The longest solstice takes place on June 21 and the shortest is on December 21.

The ancient astronomer Mayas considered the Winter Solstice to be a symbol of renewal.

They were comforted in knowing that Spring was not far off and every day in the upcoming season would be longer than the last.

Even now, Mayan priests still pray and light incense at their Chichen Itza temple to recognize the day of the year when the sun is situated farthest from the Earth in the Northern Hemisphere.

My family and I were blessed to have climbed the ultra narrow 91 steps of Chichen Itza twice, before it was outlawed because of the inherent danger.

Ascending and descending the slippery staircase inside of the pyramid, was one of the most harrowing experiences of my entire life.

No bannisters to hold onto, it took Cirque du Soleil balance to navigate the extreme humidity and sweat-drenched steps.

The Nordic tradition of winter solstice is a midwinter feast that lasts 12 days.

Vikings decorated evergreen trees with gifts such as food, carvings, and food for the tree spirits to encourage them to return in the spring.

Mistletoe combined with a mother's tears resurrected her son, the God of Light and Goodness, in a Viking myth.

Solstice at Stonehenge, marking the passage of time was important to many ancient cultures.

For the people of Stonehenge who were farmers, growing crops and tending herds of animals, knowing when the seasons were changing was important.

Winter might have been a time of fear as the days grew shorter and colder.

Agreeing with the Mayans, I believe that the Winter Solstice is a time of renewal, to be enveloped by the soothing silence, giving thanks and praise for the bountiful spiritual and physical harvests of the year.

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