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Solstice Fires

Bringing back the sun...

In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer describes early Europeans building solstice fires at year's end to strengthen the sun. Seeing the sun steadily weakening, steadily falling in its arc across the sky, they did what they could to restore it to health. Birds and other creatures of the natural world respond to the length of winter days. Much of the rhythm and timing of birds' behavior, including migration and breeding, is determined by the length and intensity of the sun's light.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Winter Solstice Fires
Written by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote! [Selection from “Nocturne (New Year Music)” by Gerald Finzi]

In The Golden Bough, his monumental study of vanished religions, Sir James Frazer describes early Europeans building solstice fires these dark days to strengthen the sun.
Seeing the sun steadily weakening, steadily falling in its arc across the sky, they did what they could to restore it to health. They knew that without the return of its warmth, their lives were lost in darkness.
Perhaps we no longer respond in the same way  to this vital connection, but birds and other creatures of the natural world do. Much of the rhythm and timing of birds’ behavior, including migration and breeding, is determined by the length and intensity of the sun’s light.

If birds could speak, they might—like the ancients—beseech the sun, saying, “Come back; we’re lost without you.” [Music]

As you reflect upon the advent of a new year, what gifts of nature do you find yourself particularly grateful for? [Music]

Visit us at birdnote.org. I’m Michael Stein. [Music]

###

Musical selection from “Nocturne (New Year Music)” by Gerald Finzi, as played by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner conductor. Philips Classics, 1997. 
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org     December 2014     Narrator: Michael Stein

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