WV Farm Bureau Magazine December 2015 - Page 19

We are not the first to suffer winter “blahs.” Our ancestors feared the days of late fall and the hardships that darkness brought. Survival during those times must have been difficult enough without losing the warmth and light of the sun. Not having enough wood for heat or food to last until spring could have been fatal. When winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, took place about December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, people celebrated because the days to come were going to gain, not lose, sunlit hours. Winter was going to start to loosen its cold, cruel grip of darkness, a wonderful reason for merry-making! D, necessary for bone calcium formation, improves with sunlight as a catalyst. Residents of higher latitudes who have too little exposure also have higher rates of lymphoma and other cancers. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition directly affected by a lack of sunshine. “Winter blues,” a less serious ailment, also occurs more frequently when sunlight is limited. The production of serotonin in the brain seems to be related to exposure to sunlight and consequently, better moods. Even in classrooms, the health of students who suffer from the absence of sunlight in the wintertime has been studied. Early studies indicate that Existing architecture from thousands of natural light, or full spectrum lighting which years ago provides evidence that daylight most resembles sunlight provides healthier was of great consequence. Stonehenge in school environments for students and England was built so that rays of light at teachers. Natural daylight is proving to be sunset on the solstice lined up the Altar and extremely important to human health. Sacrifice stones. Goseck Circle in Germany has two gates cut into its outer circle which During the season of renewed physical correspond to sunrise and sunset on the light, modern Christian cultures also solstice, and the Mayan pyramids in Tulum, celebrate a symbolic glow of the season. Mexico are built so that a sunburst appears While the origin of the actual date of through a hole in the top when the sun hits Christmas is less clear than that of winter it on the day of winter solstice. solstice, in the modern Christian world, the holy birth of Christ is celebrated at roughly The sun’s position really doesn’t cause the same time. For believers, a spiritual the difference in hours of light; rather, the light is also growing during this season. tilt of the earth causes the change. For With increasing physical light also comes half the year, the North Pole tilts toward the time to celebrate Christ’s birth and the sun and for the other half, the South celebrate the divine internal light of peace, Pole is closer to the sun. Inhabitants of the good will, and the radiance of Christian top half of the earth get shorter hours of love. sunlight each day in the fall until the winter solstice and then the process reverses and Feeling lousy? Physical, mental, and the hours of sunlight gradually increase. spiritual health a bubble off of level? Don’t despair, look to the days ahead. Celebrate In recent years, many results of - light is on the way! excessive sunlight have become well known. Too much exposure causes sunburn, a variety of skin cancers, and premature aging. However, there are also health risks that occur when not enough sunlight is present. Production of vitamin West Virginia Farm Bureau News 19