Winter is marked by gradual shortening of days and lengthening of nights. Thus, it gets darker earlier in the night. The winter solstice starts the reversal of this and brings more light to each day. The winter solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the year. The solstice happens twice a year when the sun is the greatest distance from the equator.
Many cultures consider the winter solstice a time of rebirth—the rebirth of light in their lives. People celebrate the winter solstice by having festivals, celebrations of Light, spending time with loved ones, eating, singing, and dancing. There is also a solstice sun chant you can do as the sun rises:
Solstice Sun, Shining Bright!
Shortest Day and Longest Night.
Solstice Wish of Hope & Cheer:
Peace on Earth, throughout the Year! (By Selena Fox)
Winter solstice focuses on creating unity in the world we live in. Spend time with your friends and family, celebrate the togetherness. Decorate your home in the colors of nature, hang lights and mistletoe (as a sign of good luck), donate food and clothing to those who need it, and share joy and love with everyone around you. However you choose to celebrate, remember that winter solstice is a time of rebirth. Start over and bring joy and light to the New Year.
Diana and Tanya
Food Expiration Dates:
Not Always What We Think!
Is that furry cheese in your fridge? And what’s that green stuff in the Tupperware on the bottom shelf? These items are easy to spot as being way past their prime.
Other foods, though, sans fur and green slime, are given the sniff test – sniff once, maybe twice, if it doesn’t make you reel, it’s safe, right? Well, not so fast. Many food borne pathogens live on food that still smells like what it should. So, check the expiration date, right?
Well, not so fast. Expiration dates on food products are voluntary. Only baby food and infant formula require expiration dates.
Some ethical food manufacturers print an expiration date on their products⎯ others use a ‘sell by’ date. “Sell by” is an indicator that the product’s quality is good until that date. Some states require dairy products to be pulled from the shelves by the ‘sell by’ date. In order to receive the freshest product, reach to the very back for the date that’s furthest away. “Best if used by” as well as “use by” also refer to freshness, not safety.
What to do? As a general rule, milk is good for 5-7 days after the “sell by” date, while eggs last 3-5 weeks. Eggs should never be stored in those cute egg holders in the door of the fridge as exposure to room temperature air every time you open the door decreases their shelf life. Instead, store in their original container on a colder, lower shelf. Pork and beef should be cooked or frozen within 3-5 days of purchase while chicken lasts a day or two.
Finally, the USDA offers recommendations to buy before the expiration date, take perishables home immediately after purchase for refrigeration or freezing, and when in doubt, toss it out. It just isn’t worth the price of food poisoning!