Who uses it: Meteorologists and modern pagans
What it means: Literally, "sun at a standstill;" the time, twice a year, when the Northern or Southern Hemisphere is farthest from the sun, and periods of sunlight are shortest or longest.
How you can use it: Greetings of the season.
As far as historians can tell, almost every civilization has had some celebration or recognition of the solstices, especially the winter one. It's the promise that winter won't last forever, that the sun will come back and life will return.
Anna and I wrapped presents at Barnes & Noble yesterday morning, and earned a whopping $34 for the Literacy Volunteers. As Anna's husband said last year, we might as well have dropped a couple of twenty-dollar bills into the jar and gone off to the movies. But the money wasn't the point (okay, not mostly the point) -- it was a nice thing to do for the community, and we got to chat with neighbors and give away a few pamphlets.
The wrapping table was next to the Periodicals section, which gave us plenty of conversation fodder while we weren't wrapping. Every special interest has its own magazine, and usually more than one. I couldn't resist paging through New Witch, and Anna seriously considered buying Faery for one of her nieces.
"Huh, it's a fashion spread," she said, looking at a photo layout in Faery.
"What faeries are wearing this season?" I asked.
"No, I think how to dress like a faery."
"How do they know?"
I have 24 hours to get everything on my list done before leaving for Virginia Beach tomorrow. Ho. Ho. Ho.