A Brief History of the Winter Solstice

added by ryan 949 days ago under Blogs

A Brief History of Winter Solstice



Today is the Winter Solstice. Inspired by Sir William Mark Tully I was compelled to share my thoughts on something undestood.

Here we are at the shortest day of the year - before the long ascent out of the darkness. into Spring. The Winter Solstice is an ancient practice and has been celebrated universally, throughout time and throughout different cultures. 

Dong Ji - the Chinese Festival - is the festival of the sticky dumplings.
The Scandanavians burn Yule logs in honour of the god, Thor.
It is said that it is the first Pagan festival the Romans took advantage of by the church and then promptly moved the date to December 25th. 

Winter Solstice marks Mid-winter and so is a time to cheer ourselves up. Ascent of the Sun starts. The birth of the Sun - light at the end of the long dark tunnel of winter. We're assured that the cycle of the seasons of nature we depend upon, continue.

 Solstice literally means 'sun-standing still' as it appears to sit at the same level on the Horizons at this point in the year - most notable in the arctic Circle where the Sun disappears under the horizon for days or weeks (months if you're on the North Pole).

Endris: Longnight or Enduring night.
Endris was the Pagan Corn Goddess -  worshipped for her bearing of the grain. Another Pagan ritual changed by the Christian way - Endris became Mary and the Sun became the son of god - Jesus. From the times of ancient Rome - Holly is strongly associated with the Sun God and the Winter Solstice and of Christmas. It symbolises hardiness and what it takes to survive a cold, frozen, northern winter.

Holly and the Ivy

Anna Wigley writes:

"We bring a branch of Holly form the hill.
It smells of cold earth and a hard rind of Moon.
It gleams with the health of a hardy, spartan thing.

 There is sap; amber in your hand - where you held it aloft.
A ragged cross, splintering the Sun.
Now the room smells of spikes; at the astringent rustling woods.
Sap zings lightly in the air.

 The holly leaves fill the space with their jagged foreign tongue.
We prop a branch in a corner; a shrine to chilly-hearted evergreens.
Far stars - sharp as hatpin stones."

Darkness was to be feared by most, before soda-lights, wired connections and 24hr shops  - now we celebrate that the Sun starts to rise and to us leaving the darkness behind. We have learned to flock together and emerge from the cold and mingle in the glow of captured rooms.

Wherever we reside in the world; amongst all the changes - what has been, what is and what will be - nothing is lost. We hang lights, we bring the outdoors inside and we celebrate this time of year with family and with friends. In the pot pourri of mankind; Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Pagans, Jews and Siekhs - we all recognise the importance of this time of year, the coloured lights, the dwindling warmth and the compass of our days. Some wonder if the Star of Bethlehem occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed or a comet may have lingered in the cold. night sky. It is comforting to look out at the night sky and know that while all changes - nothing is lost; to recollect that, in antiquity, the Winter Solstice fell in Capricorn and that in the Orion Nebula, from swirling gases - new stars are being born.

I happen to love Winter. It is a time of magic and of transformation but it also requires a stoicism when bound together in the rawness of nature in tooth and claw - if we are to be well prepared and survive the freeze. A fox passed by the garden with a fresh pigeon in its mouth - looking every which way for a safe exit before making its way under hedge and away into the Winter. It is also a time to reflect, to take stock and to dream of Spring, new ideas and warm sun on our faces. Nowadays most of us have adequate shelter and heating - but not for nature's other populous, that suffer winter, year-on-year

An extract from The Animal Dialogues by Craig Chiles

"The ELk that you glimpse in the summer; those at the edge of the forest are the survivors of winter - only the strongest. You see one just before dusk, that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back into the forest and vanish. You can't help imagine the still frozen nights behind it - so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies left half drifted over in snow - no sign of animal attack or injury, just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn't want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you had lived through only one of the those winters like the Elk has - you would write books about it. You would become a shaman, you would be forever changed. That Elk from the Winter, stands there on the Summer evening from beside the forest. 
It keeps its story to itself."

The cold and darkness will end...

for the Chinese - Dong Ji
For the Romans - Saturnalia,
for the Christians - Christmas
for the Jews - Hanuka
for Pagans...

 Solstice - the day the door swings open.



Tags: News,Newsletter

We print everything on recycled paper that has been produced by harnessing the power of the wind

Please add a comment

Posted by Ahmed on
Runee your photobook is maaigcl.I visit your photo gallery, very intersting.Thanks for visiting throughout this year, I wish you and your family Happy Holidays and a great and prosperous new year!Livio.
Posted by Mert on
Beautiful rose - with snow on.Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.Also thnkas for visiting my blog and your comments since ive been blogging.
Posted by Shekhalam on
and Merry Christmas to you and yours!The Inverness I live in was named from the Inverness in Scotland. If you are interested, is a link. Thanks for the nice commnets and the visits! http://jpzhbointt.com [url=http://elwgizq.com]elwgizq[/url] [link=http://rrygwdwx.com]rrygwdwx[/link]
Posted by Mahmoud on
Rather than a weekly utpade, why not use the Praxis graphs; instead of having the x-axis as 24 hours, have it for the winter season, say Oct 1 to May 1 (we don't usually have snow outside of those months). You could plot last year's data as yesterday's' data, as well as add a third line for the 30 year average (might just be steps of monthly long term averages?). Then we could see this winter grow above (or below) the line and know exactly where we stand every 15 minutes! Oh the excitement.
Posted by Andrey on
Just to answer Pete's commnet.I'll look into making a plot every once in a while, but unfortunately the snowfall depth measurements are not measured automatically every 15 minutes like the other weather station data so we can't do the exact same kind of graph. http://cineddxhw.com [url=http://rjvvrdbrp.com]rjvvrdbrp[/url] [link=http://muhehu.com]muhehu[/link]
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