There are quite a few sites from the ancient world that mark the solstice in pretty special ways.
Stonehenge is probably the most famous one, but there’s another site that offers an amazing solstice experience, if you’re fortunate enough to see it: Newgrange in Ireland.
Scientists think Newgrange was built around 3200 BC, which means it’s not only about a thousand years older than Stonehenge, it’s older than the pyramids in Egypt.
It’s a large round mound, covering about an acre, and the outside features a series of nearly a hundred large stones, many of which have been engraved.
On the inside, there’s even more art, and a series of passages to chambers.
That led the people who unearthed and rediscovered Newgrange in 1699 to believe it was some kind of tomb or temple.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that a researcher discovered something more.
Professor Michael O’Kelly found what’s known as the roof box.
At sunrise on the winter solstice, sunlight would pass through the opening and illuminate the main chambers.
Since then, quite a few people have wanted to experience the Newgrange solstice for themselves.
But the chamber can only hold a small number of people at a time.
So the authorities have held an annual lottery to allow a few lucky people to go inside Newgrange on the mornings between December 19 and 23.
If the skies are clear, those choice few get to take in a five thousand year old light show.
If you’re still figuring out your holiday decorations, you might get some inspiration at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Their collection includes thousands of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments, everything from a Muhammad Ali figurine to a mini Mattel See ‘n’ Say toy to a Christmas tree made of flip phones showing festive text messages.
1,000 years older than Stonehenge (Irish Times)
The Quaint, Weird World of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments (Hyperallergic)