I find myself writing these words on the day of the winter solstice. The days that have been getting progressively shorter and darker stop doing so, and now begin to slowly lengthen and become brighter. The derivation of the word “solstice” is itself interesting, stemming from the latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). It’s therefore a time when all nature stops, pauses, and changes direction.

Over the years, the solstice has had considerable and variable significance, ranging from providing scientific insights about our position in the universe, to rituals, community events and social practices. In the end, however, it is a predictable, natural event that touches us all, regardless of our cultural, racial or religious background.

It seems we’re also united this time of year by a need to stop, rest, reflect and be with those who are closest to us. As the days grow shorter, and as the solstice provides indisputable evidence of our fragility in the universe, it seems that natural biorhythms urge us to slow down, cleave to what we perceive to be unshakably reliable, and restore our spiritual energy for challenges ahead.

It’s in that spirit that I wish our faculty and students a restful, safe and restorative break from the routine of busy lives, and very best wishes, as we will again come together to engage the year ahead.


Anthony J. Sanfilippo, MD, FRCP(C)
Associate Dean,
Undergraduate Medical Education