With all the hoopla surrounding the annual summer solstice (aka the best day to be an Alaskan), the Betster worries the special day’s less popular sibling, winter solstice, will be all but forgotten among the merriment of the holiday season. After all, who has time to think about a potential solstice celebration when there are pies that need baking and presents that need purchasing and extended relatives who you aren’t really that close to — just close enough to merit a major holiday dinner invitation — need placating?
Of course, with all the attention summer solstice gets, it can be nice to remember that we Alaskans are blessed with not one but two markers of the turning of the time. Twice the astronomical phenomena, twice the fun, amiright? Perhaps if we used one of its other names, like midwinter, or the lesser known hibernal solstice, the day would get some revamped attention.
Then again, the Betster can hardly blame people for choosing to ignore the version of solstice that means they’ll be getting the least amount of light they’ve seen all year. God forbid it happens to fall on a cloudy day, too.
“Rejoice, everyone! The time of utter darkness is upon us!” doesn’t exactly have the same marketing potential as the summer solstice does.
Though our darkest day is officially upon us, the Betster thinks you’ll make it through, perhaps with the help of these Best Bets:
BEST BRUSH BET: Running out of things to do before the big holiday? The Betster doubts it, but just in case, you’ve got another chance to immerse yourself in some quality art and conversation this weekend. Meet artist Sharlene Cline with her exhibit “A Brush with Collage!” from 5-6 p.m. this Friday at Ptarmigan Arts, located at 471 E. Pioneer Ave. Call 907-235-5345 for more information.
BEST BRIGHT BET: If you haven’t heard, the Homer High School Swing Choir has a new gig — helping to brighten up the night at the Bear Creek Winery Garden Lights. So if you haven’t already caught them, go check out the lights for yourself and soak in that fluorescent cheer. The lights will be on, the hot cocoa will be flowing and the fire will be roaring from 5-7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday at the winery. Admission to this family friendly event is free.
BEST CLASSIC BET: Is there really a movie becoming a Christmas classic more quickly than “Elf”? The Betster thinks not. Lucky for you, it’s playing for free at the Homer Theatre this weekend. Grab a friend for a trip down memory lane with everyone’s favorite overly optimistic elf.
BEST BRIGHT AND EARLY BET: The Ski Your Age Nordic ski event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, and is the perfect way to jump back into being active after devouring your holiday meal. Bring your Christmas leftovers to the Lookout Trail System at first light on the day after Christmas and try out your new gear with your friends and family. Ski anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try for one of the following categories: Ski Your Age in kilometers, join the Century Club by skiing 100 minus your age in kilometers, ski the most kilometers as a family, or ski 50 kilometers.
BEST BEAT THE EARTH BET: Early Christians knew what they were doing when they celebrated the birth of Jesus around the time of the Roman Saturnalia, the pagan ceremony honoring the return of the Sun after the winter solstice. On Saturday the daylight hours start gaining, with a 1-minute increase over the low of 5 hours, 59 minutes.
Contemplate the growing light with a Labyrinth Prayer Walk at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on the Sterling Highway. Center your mind, connect with the earth and think about the meaning of the season. The walk is followed by a Compline service.
BEST BREAKING BREAD BET: Bring a dish and share a meal for Christmas dinner at 3 p.m. Monday at the Refuge Chapel on Pioneer Avenue. Food also is provided. All are welcome.