Winter Solstice is Today –December 21

It’s a Significant Date on the Mayan Calendar
and in the Tulum© series by Beverly & Steve Smirnis

Today Winter Solstice will be observed at the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza

The Mayans and other early civilizations kept track of the days by observing the Sun as it moved across the sky and cast shadows during the day and at different times of the year.

The term “solstice” comes from the Latin words sold (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because, during the solstice, the angle between the sun’s rays and the plane of the Earth’s equator appears to stand still.   

Today (December 21), the noontime elevation in the sky today is at its lowest point all year.  The astronomical moment when the Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of daylight and represents the official start of winter. After the day of Winter Solstice, the sky reverses, marking the rebirth of the Sun and renewal of life as the hours of daylight become longer. 

The Equinoxes on March 21 and September 21 are the two times of the year when day and night are of equal length. On March 21, the Mayans observed the body of the feathered serpent formed when the rays of the sun, cross the 9 corners of the northwest face of the pyramid.  The Sun’s connection with the head of the snake at the base of the pyramid represents Kukulkan’s descent from heaven into the underworld through the sacred cenote.   On the date of this occurrence, they knew that it was the right time to plant corn. When the serpent’s image reappears on the pyramid on September 21, it marks his return to heaven and the time to harvest. 

Important dates on the Mayan calendar also mark important dates in the plot of our series, Tulum©

Our main character, Isabella, reflects: 

Just before I had returned home for Christmas, Dacey and I had gone on a day trip to Chichen Itza to see the winter solstice on December 21.  I remember how he looked at me as he told the story about the four sided El Castillo pyramid which has a staircase on each face. 

As my mind drifted, I remembered the conversation very specifically.  He had explained to me that each face of the pyramid has 91 steps.  Four times 91 is 364 and the platform at the top is 365, representing the days of the solar year.  Then as the sun set, we saw the shadow cast on the northern stairway, creating a diamond pattern representing a snake’s body signifying the presence of the God Kukulkan appearing as a feathered serpent.  He had told me all about the Spring Equinox which would follow on March 21 and how the sun’s shadows would look like the outline of the snake descending the from the top of the pyramid. 

Kukulcan had a human form as well as his feathered serpent form.
 Learn more about the legend of Kukulcan
On Spring Equinox (March 21) Kukulcan descends from heaven into the underworld through a sacred cenote. The serpent re-emerges on September 21 to mark his return to heaven.
The child born to the young American girl, Isabella, and her lover, Dacey from Tulum, arrives precisely on the date of the Fall Equinox. 

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