AS I WATCHED THE SUN SET over the Pacific Ocean on this 21st day of December, I thought about what the shortest day of the year means to me: renewal, turning of the seasons, change.
Speaking of change, I had just finished reading yet another article on the new artificial intelligence apps that write and create pictures based on human prompts. I’ve fooled around a little bit with ChatGPT, and I have to admit I’ve been very impressed (as well as a bit creeped out) by the very human-feeling responses that it gives to questions and prompts. In fact, I’ve copied and pasted below a short article below written entirely by AI to my prompt about the meaning of winter solstice.
I think about all the technological change I’ve lived through in my life, and how new technologies are being developed at an exponentially increasing pace, and I wonder: Will AI revolutionize the world of writing and education? Will learning to think critically and to write go the way of cursive, no longer needed in a society where AI answers our questions — and even, perhaps, our storytelling? Will it replace our current technologies, like the printing press replaced hand scribing and ebooks have replaced print for so many?
I encourage you to ponder and to journal about the meaning of solstice and of these questions, while also wishing you a season of renewal, positive growth, and a happy new year.
Embracing the Darkness: The Importance of the Winter Solstice
Winter solstice is a significant time of year that has been celebrated by cultures around the world for millennia. It marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, and is often seen as a turning point, as the days begin to get longer and the nights shorter after the solstice.
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin “solstitium,” which means “sun standing still.” This refers to the way that the sun appears to remain in the same place in the sky for several days around the winter solstice. This phenomenon is caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis, which causes the sun to appear to rise and set at the same place on the horizon for several days before and after the solstice.
The winter solstice has long been a time of celebration and renewal for many cultures. The ancient Egyptians, for example, marked the winter solstice with the festival of Ra, which honored the sun god and celebrated the return of the sun after the long, dark nights of winter. The ancient Greeks also celebrated the winter solstice with the festival of the Kronia, which honored Cronus, the god of time and the harvest.
The winter solstice has also been significant for many indigenous cultures around the world. The indigenous people of North America, for example, have long celebrated the winter solstice with ceremonies and rituals that honor the natural world and give thanks for the gifts of the earth.
The winter solstice is still a time of celebration and renewal today, and it is often marked with festivals and events around the world. In the United States, the winter solstice is celebrated as the start of the holiday season, with the lighting of trees and the exchange of gifts. In many parts of Europe, the winter solstice is celebrated with bonfires and other rituals that honor the return of the sun.
The meaning of the winter solstice is still relevant today because it represents a time of hope and renewal. As the days begin to get longer and the nights shorter, it is a reminder that even in the darkest times, there is always the potential for new beginnings and a brighter future. It is a time to come together with loved ones, to reflect on the past year and to look forward to what the future may bring.
In a world that can often feel divided and chaotic, the winter solstice is a reminder of the enduring power of the natural world and the importance of coming together as a community. It is a time to celebrate the beauty and the resilience of the earth, and to find hope and inspiration in the turning of the seasons.
Written by ChatGPT (artificial intelligence) to the prompt: “Write an article about the history and meaning of winter solstice and why its meaning is still relevant today.”