Happy New Year. Hope you have a Great 2008.
It is the time of the Winter Solstice. "Solstice" comes from two Latin words. "Sol" is sun. And "stice" means constant or not-changing. For several days before and after the Winter Solstice (Dec 22 this year; the shortest day of the year) the sun appears to stay in the same place at high noon. All other days of the year it is perceptively in a di fferent place at noon. Thus the origin of the word, and the concept, and the great fear that the world may be ending each year.
Why the Winter Solstice is important. Because it is natural, and nature, and part of the changing seasons, which determine not only our natural environment (critical to life) but also our human reactions during the different seasons. Stay in touch with the seasons. It's important to understanding your own natural cycles.
Photo of sun at high noon a few days after the Winter Solstice. The sun is shining through and blocking the top of the evergreen tree.