Dogs don’t care that the Maccabees resisted the Greek invasion (although most are fond of latkes). They don’t care about the fat man in the red suit (unless he’s giving out dog treats on picture-taking day).
But they do care about solstice.
And you should too. It makes you more like your dog.
Solstice is Important Everywhere
If you took a list of every commemoration and celebration from around the world and charted them by their dates, you’d find something interesting.
During the summer and winter solstice, you’d see a spike in holidays. You’d also see an uptick around the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Hmmm. What’s happening?
Cultures all around the world have created holidays that coincide with the sun.
It’s getting cold. The nights are longer. What to do? What to do?
How about having a party? Whether it’s called Saturnalia, Yule, or Christmas, humans in most cultures have found a way to make the long nights a bit more fun.
Unfortunately, we’ve become so interested in the traditions we’ve attached to the solar year that we’ve stopped paying attention to the sun.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. Just like it affects our dogs.
Dogs and Solstice
I see how the sun affects Honey.
As the days grow shorter, she goes to bed earlier and sleeps in longer. On a grey day, she won’t pester me for a walk first thing.
On a rare sunny, winter morning (Ithaca has about as many cloudy days as Seattle, yuck), Honey’s pace and spirits pick up.
During the summer, she’s more active all around.
I’ve noticed similar behaviors with previous dogs, Agatha, Christie, and Shadow.
Most dogs don’t go to work. They don’t attend school. They pay no attention to holidays (except where our behavior affects them).
They’re just free to respond to how the sun makes them feel.
Getting Out of Touch With the Sun
The industrialized world organizes itself around efficiency, not the sun. And certainly not our bodies.
Even though we might want to sleep more in the winter, our work day still starts at 8 a.m. It’s dark when we return home.
We change the time to create “daylight savings.”
I’ve even looked at my watch and said, “Gee, it’s noon. I guess I should get some lunch” instead of eating when I got hungry. How crazy is that?
Be a Dog For Solstice
Tomorrow is the day I most look forward to. It will be the longest night. And then, the sun will start coming back.
No, I don’t notice right away. But I know something has changed and it’s no longer getting darker and darker.
Our animals respond too, in their bodies.
You can’t hibernate until the days get longer. Or even just sleep in.
You might have baking to do or gifts to wrap that prevent you from going to bed a little early.
But I’d urge you to take a few minutes to sit quietly and watch your animals do the one thing that best responds to the darkness—sleep. And meditate on the sun coming back.
Happy Solstice, Everyone!
Does the solstice have meaning for you? How about for your animals?