She surprised me when she continued. "It is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. In ancient times humans used to worry that the sun was dying because the days kept getting shorter and shorter. They were afraid that the sun would die and they would be forever cold and unable to grow food."
The White Dogs gasped. "No food?"
"So the ancient humans, and some modern ones, too, built bonfires and had huge festivals trying to call the sun back and give it energy to keep on living. This day was very important and special in those olden times."
The White Dogs listened to her and periodically checked the windows to see if darkness was overtaking us.
"Now we know from science that this date marks the astronomical phenomenon of the shortest day and the longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, where New Mexico is, this is the December solstice.
The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of its daily rotation mean that the two opposite points in the sky to which the Earth's axis of rotation points change very slowly (making a complete circle approximately every 26,000 years). As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the polar hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter, will, in half a year, face towards the Sun and experience summer. This is because the two hemispheres face opposite directions along Earth's axis, and so as one polar hemisphere experiences winter, the other experiences summer." she explained, quoting Wikipedia.
The White Dog Army was beginning to lose interest. "Do we get to howl tonight?" Zsofia asked. "Is this an event where treats are served," queried Bella. "I could use some treats."
White Dog looked at Steve. "You humans do have feasts and celebrations, right?" He nodded, "those who still practice the ancient ways. Typically, momma and I do not."
"But we COULD have sort of a mini festival," she persisted and the entire Army chimed in, "just to guarantee the sun DOESN'T die. Like maybe something special with treats."
"Do not give me that sun dying hogwash," I told her. "I KNOW you know more science than that and that you are just trying to manipulate dad into treats." The WDA sighed. "BUT to celebrate the spirit of rebirth that the Solstice symbolizes, we can have a White Dog Yule Log. I will add a marshmallow to the end of a chew stick that look like a branch...one for each of you. Think of it as a bonfire and a S'More."
White Dog moved over so I could sit in my chair. "Thanks, momma," she said before adding to the WDA, "And it is no coincidence that the days begin to get longer again on MY birthday!"