Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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October has come and gone--some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. There were polarizing events. We all know what happens when things become polarized--a lot of attraction and repulsion going on, with a good chance of some large-scale discharges as the ions seek to recouple in new patterns to equalize the energy state of the mix. That's how we get thunder and lightning, after all. As well as other things not quite so beneficial or pleasant.

To wit: Politics. We have a mid-term election coming up this week in the US. You bet that's been polarizing! I'll make my usual, neutral comments now: I don't care who you vote for, but I ask that you go out and vote. Your political beliefs are your business. I don't know, don't need to know, they're yours, and you owe it to yourself to go vote and express them. I urge you to do so. Voter apathy and political polarization are just two of the factors that have gotten us into this situation. Voting is your super-power. Use it as wisely as you know how. Not voting is simply a way to allow someone else to make your choices for you. That is NEVER a good thing. The end.

In other news, yesterday was my 61st birthday. We didn't throw a party or anything, but a lot of fun was had. Lindsey and I sat up late the night before--posting music videos on social media, dancing with each other, and generally having a grand old time. On the day itself, we went to a theater and watched the new movie about Freddie Mercury and Queen, then out for a fancy dinner at one of the oldest and most respected Chinese restaurants in Athens, GA. Sizzling Rice soup, Mo Shu Pork, and Snow Peas with Shrimp, washed down with a pot of hot tea. We were stuffed by the time we'd finished off only half of the main course, so both of us went to bed early last night. We brought home the remainder of our meal, and so should not need to cook for today, at all. It was fun, romantic, and satisfying. My thanks for all the birthday wishes on Facebook, Messenger, and other social sites!

As for last month's news: The big awards banquet and the historical tours of Philadelphia went off without a hitch. I received a large hunk of glass, engraved with my name and honors, at the banquet. The tour was fast-paced, but a lot of fun squeezed into a single day. I took over 60 photos, most of which wound up posted to my Facebook page. Highlights of the tour were the Liberty Bell, Liberty Hall, the first courtroom used by the US Supreme Court, the first Church of England built in the US--which is where George Washington and John Adams attended church and had a Presidential Pew set aside for the use of themselves and their families, and a tavern which turned out to be historically important as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers before the Revolution, and for a long time afterward. Also included were a museum and the steps of the Philadelphia Courthouse--which itself was featured in the training montage in the first Rocky movie, LOL!

We're coming up to the US Thanksgiving holiday, as well as a great many Winter holidays of various and sundry faiths. So I want to wish each and every one of you the happiest of whatever holidays you celebrate! Here is a partial list that I could find--all the links indicated go to Wikipedia pages:


  • Diwali: mid-October–mid-November – see "movable"


  • Bodhi Day: 8 December – Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi).
  • Advent: four Sundays preceding Christmas Day
  • Krampusnacht: 5 December – The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. In Alpine countries, Saint Nicholas has a devilish companion named Krampus who punishes the bad children the night before.
  • Saint Nicholas' Day: 6 December
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception Day: 8 December – The day of Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception is celebrated as a public holiday in many Catholic countries.
  • Saint Lucia's Day: 13 December – Church Feast Day. Saint Lucia comes as a young woman with lights and sweets.
  • Las Posadas: 16–24 December – procession to various family lodgings for celebration & prayer and to re-enact Mary & Joseph's journey to Bethlehem[4]
  • Longest Night: A modern Christian service to help those coping with loss, usually held on the eve of the Winter solstice.
  • Christmas Eve: 24 December – In many countries e.g. the German speaking countries, but also in Poland, Hungary and the Nordic countries, gift giving is on 24 December.
  • Christmas Day: 25 December and 7 January – celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike.[5][6][7][8]
  • Anastasia of Sirmium feast day: 25 December
  • Twelve Days of Christmas: 25 December–6 January
  • Saint Stephen's Day: 26 December – In Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic a holiday celebrated as Second Day of Christmas.
  • Saint John the Evangelist's Day: 27 December
  • Holy Innocents' Day: 28 December
  • Saint Sylvester's Day: 31 December
  • Pancha Ganapati: a modern five-day Hindu festival celebrated from December 21 through 25 in honor of Ganesha.
  • Malkh: 25 December
  • Mōdraniht: or Mothers' Night, the Saxon winter solstice festival.
  • Saturnalia: 17–23 December – An ancient Roman winter solstice festival in honor of the deity Saturn, held on the 17 December of the Julian calendar and expanded with festivities through to 23 December. Celebrated with sacrifice, a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival.
  • Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Day of the birth of the Unconquered Sun): 25 December – late Roman Empire
  • HumanLight: 23 December – Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network in celebration of "a Humanist's vision of a good future."[9]
  • Hanukkah: usually falls anywhere between late November and early January. See "movable"
  • Yule: Pagan winter festival that was celebrated by the historical Germanic people from late December to early January.
  • Yalda: 21 December – The turning point, Winter Solstice. As the longest night of the year and the beginning of the lengthening of days, Shabe Yaldā or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Shabe yalda means 'birthday eve.' According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born at dawn on 22 December to a virgin mother. He symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. Herodotus reports that this was the most important holiday of the year for contemporary Persians. In modern times Persians celebrate Yalda by staying up late or all night, a practice known as Shab Chera meaning 'night gazing'. Fruits and nuts are eaten, especially pomegranates and watermelons, whose red color invokes the crimson hues of dawn and symbolize Mithra.
  • Koliada: Slavic winter festival celebrated on late December with parades and singers who visit houses and receive gifts.
Unitarian Universalism
Fictional or parody
  • Erastide: In David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloreon series, Erastide is a celebration of the day on which the Seven Gods created the world. Greetings ("Joyous Erastide") and gifts are exchanged, and feasts are held.
  • Feast of Winter Veil: 15 December–2 January – A holiday in World of Warcraft. This holiday is based on Christmas. Cities are decorated with lights and a tree with presents. Special quests, items and snowballs are available to players during this time. The character of "Greatfather Winter", who is modeled after Santa Claus, appears.[11][12] Festival of the Winter Veil was and still is a legitimate holiday of European religions like Wicca. The Germanic tribes used to celebrate the Winter Solstice as a time to be thankful for the blessings given to them to survive harsh winters. The term "Weil", incorrectly translated to "veil", means abundance in German.
  • Feast of Alvis: in the TV series Sealab 2021.[13] "Believer, you have forgotten the true meaning of Alvis Day. Neither is it ham, nor pomp. Nay, the true meaning of Alvis day is drinking. Drinking and revenge."–Alvis[14]
  • Hogswatch: a holiday celebrated on the fictional world of Discworld. It is very similar to the Christian celebration of Christmas.
  • Festivus: 23 December – a parody holiday created by Daniel O'Keefe and made popular by Seinfeld as an alternative to Christmas.
  • Frostvale: the winter holidays in the Artix Entertainment universe
  • Decemberween: 25 December – a parody of Christmas that features gift-giving, carol-singing and decorated trees. The fact that it takes place on December 25, the same day as Christmas, has been presented as just a coincidence, and it has been stated that Decemberween traditionally takes place "55 days after Halloween". The holiday has been featured in the Homestar Runner series.
  • Wintersday, the end-of-the-year celebration in the fictional universe of the Guild Wars franchise, starts every year mid December and ends the next year on early January.
  • IES Competition Time, Don's Event questions on the number of trips he took all over the world and in return offering prizes for the person who can guess closest. Follows this up with everyone's favourite Andrew Award presentation.
  • Winter's Crest, the winter celebration held on the continent of Tal'Dorei in the world of Exandria, as featured in the RPG show Critical Role.

I realize this isn't much of an editorial, but I don't want to be the reason tonight's new issue upload is late. I'll try to think up a better topic for next time.

All right, it's about time I shut up and let y'all get to reading the tenth, and next-to-last issue of Aphelion of 2018! Enjoy!



Title: Lagoon Nebula (Visible-light View)

Photo Credits: NASA, ESA, and STScI