THE WINTER SOLSTICE!
Winter is Coming.
Actually it has already arrived. Today is the Winter Solstice, and is either the first day of winter, or midwinter depending on if you’re looking at a meteorological or astronomical calendar. It also means that today has the fewest hours of sunlight in the year, looks like we have a long dark night ahead of us.
Unfortunately for most of us Kit Harrington is going to be knocking on our door to help while the long, cold winter night away. Although, I am still holding out hope of course. Instead I will be grabbing a good drink – I have some peppermint vodka I want to try – and a hot book to help keep me warm.
There are some other things I could do to see the winter in, especially if I am willing to travel (I’m not):
Stonehenge – England
Stonehenge is a Neolithic monument, which consists of large stones set out in a certain pattern – I am massively over simplifying this! Stonehenge was built and added to over thousands of years and is definitely a site worth visiting if you ever get a chance, it has a fascinating history. No one quite knows what our ancestors were thinking when they built this fete of engineering. However, the stones are aligned so you get a clear point of view of the sunset on the Winters Solstice and many people go and visit to celebrate the rebirth of the sun.
Newgrange – Ireland
Newgrange is a massive tomb with a passage that leads to a chamber with 3 alcoves and was built over 5000 years ago. What is remarkable is that above the entrance of the passage there is an opening called a ‘roof-box’. From the 19 December to the 23 December the light hits the chamber and then slowly travels to the other side. Then, as the sun gets higher the initially narrow beam of light widens so it floods the whole chamber with light. This dramatic illumination lasts approximately 17 minutes. Unfortunately to get a front row ticket to this marvel of ancient ingenuity you have to enter a lottery! Maybe next year…
Japan – Yuzu Bath
When we have a cold, we’ve all been told to take some honey and lemon. Well, in Japan, the idea that some citrus fruit well help keep those winter bugs away is taken to another level. Yuzu is a citrus fruit and if you bath in Yuzu it’s thought to ward off colds. In fact, it’s not just humans do it, but in Saitama Children’s Zoo they bathe the Capybaras too! Don’t they look adorable?
Yalda Night – Iran
The Yalda festival in Iran is done on the “longest and darkest night of the year,” aka the winter solstice. During this night everyone flocks together to pass the long night together and protect against evil. It’s traditional to eat nuts, pomegranates and watermelon as the red colour symbolises the dawn of a new day. Poetry is also read, particularly the works of Hafiz.
Yuletide ~ Pre-Christian Scandinavia
It probably isn’t shocking that a lot of our Christmas traditions have pagan roots, especially in association with Yule, things like the Christmas tree, yule log, the Christmas wreath, all incorporated into Christianity to make it more palatable to pagans. The Feast of Juul or as it’s now known Yule was a celebration on the winter solstice which involved 12 days of partying and feasting hard as they celebrated the rebirth of the sun.
It was fascinating looking at the traditions of different cultures at different times and how they celebrate the Winters Solstice. I have barely scratched the surface! I highly recommend that you take a look, you may find something interesting to attend locally. From my reading celebrating the winter solstice was all about new beginnings, welcoming in a new year and letting the darkness pass, which seems like a great idea no matter where you are from!
Do you have any winter traditions?
Day 8 Prize Pack
SIGNED copy of PIPE DREAMS by Sarina Bowen
FLY WITH ME by Chanel Cleeton
BOARDWALK SUMMER by Kimberly Fisk
SIGNS OF ATTRACTION by Laura Brown
THE CAJUN DOCTOR by Sandra Hill
HATE TO WANT YOU by Alisha Rai
LEAVE THE NIGHT ON by Laura Trentham
DISORDERLY CONDUCT by Tessa Bailey
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