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December 2013 - The Approach of the Southern Solstice

The Coming Winter Solstice
J. Martinez & Company - Coffee Merchants
December 14, 2013

Company Newsletter
The Coming Winter Solstice

The Coming Solstice

On December 21st, at the moment the sun has reached its southernmost point in the sky, its rays will briefly illuminate the inner chamber of an ancient passage tomb on a hillside in western Ireland. The chamber in this stone and earth cairn remains dark except for seventeen minutes on this day of the winter solstice. This structure was built approximately 5,000 years ago in Neolithic times. It is older than Stonehenge, which also is aligned with the solstice and other astronomical phenomena, and similar to Maeshowe, a passage tomb in the Orkney Islands.Newgrange entrance

On the other side of the world, in Central America, we find Mayan pyramids that are aligned to track the passage of the sun, Venus and other stars. The pyramids of Tikal are aligned such that the Mayan priests could determine the dates of their ritual calendar. More impressive perhaps is the unique architecture of El Castillo in Chichen Itza. On the equinox a shadow representing Kukulkan, the serpent, slithers down the pyramid to meet up with the snake’s head carved at the base of the pyramid.  

Last year’s solstice was much ballyhooed because of the Mayans “Long Count” calendar.  The winter solstice of 2012 marked the finish of the 13th 144,000-day B’ak’tun cycle, or 5,125 years since the date of the creation of man, according to Mayan myth.  As far as we can tell, the prior “Era” of the Mayan calendar, before the current creation, ended after 13 B’ak’tun cycles, thus we may be starting a new “Era”. But there is nothing indicating that the Mayans expected anything to happen at the end of the 13th B’ak’tun, except that we know they would have certainly had a very big party.Temple I on The Great Plaza and North Acropolis seen from Temple II in Tikal, Guatemala, just after noon during the Mayan mid-winter/winter solstice/new year celebrations by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

Man has been observing the heavens, and measuring time by celestial objects, for thousands of years. While the sun was originally used to measure time as it passes through the sky, scientists now measure the earth’s rotation relative to distant quasars using long baseline interferometry, which involves the use of radio telescopes scattered across our planet, using light we cannot see.

Whatever you plan to observe on or around the winter solstice, whether Christmas, Hanukkah, the Dongzhi Festival, Kwanzaa or Saturnalia, take a moment to ponder how long man has gazed at the heavens and built monuments to mark our planet’s journey through space. And while you are doing that, have a cup of your favorite J. Martinez coffee.


Holiday Gifts

You still have time to send some great gifts to your coffee-loving friends and family. Here are a few ideas:
Gift Box for 4 One Pound Boxes of Coffee Gift Box for 2 One Pound Boxes of Coffee and Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans