Party like a pagan!
Put on your party hats and get ready to party. The civilizations on all continents have reveled in the importance of the landmark day in the solar calendar. The days will now get longer and the nights shorter. Whatever you call it, enjoy. Unfortunately some recent [2000 years] religious sects have claimed ownership of it but due to this party going on for way longer than when they decided to pirate it, the party still goes on. (Sorry Christians! But you can still participate. You party animals!)
New Grange and Stonehenge in Ireland and Wales [c.3000 BC],Chichen Itza ln Mexico (c.600–900 AD),The Temple of Karnak in Egypt [c.2000-1600 BC]
So start the bonfire, light the Yule log, gather your friends and those in need, share what you can and have a good time! Why stop a multi-millennea party tradition. Party like a pagan! Call it what you want, it is really the winter solstice. Remember the days are getting longer and spring is on its way!
In earlier times
Since ancient times, people have celebrated the return of summer light with various cultural and religious traditions. Predating Christianity by centuries, these celebrations included rituals of light and fire, both of which were widely believed to help beat back winter’s ominous gloom, and served as a reminder that brighter days were ahead.
- Throughout much of Northern Europe, ancient Germanic people honored the winter solstice with Yule festivals. This tradition is still alive today as well as its centerpiece, the Yule log, whose embers it was believed helped frighten away evil spirits.
- In India, Makar Sankranti celebrates the sun’s ascendency, marked by gift giving and special prayers.
- In Ireland, the Newgrange tomb, a massive prehistoric monument, was built and aligned to capture the light at the moment of the winter solstice sunrise.
- The Roman feast of Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture in Roman times, was a week long December feast that included the observance of the winter solstice. Romans celebrated the lengthening of days by also paying homage to Mithra, the Persian god of light. Many believe the early beginnings of Christmas have direct roots in this particular winter solstice celebration.
- In China, Dong Zhi, the annual winter solstice festival, has been celebrated for centuries. The ancient Chinese believed that the yin qualities of darkness and cold were at their most powerful point during the winter solstice, but it was also the turning point that gave way to the light and warmth of yang. Today, many believe longer days signify an increase in positive energy, which is why Dong Zhi is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese, second only to the Chinese New Year.
Reference: Christian Science Monitor
- Winter Solstice Celebrations Around The World – Brumalia (witchesofthecraft.com)
- Winter solstice: celebrating the shortest day of the year (cbc.ca)
- Winter Solstice 2011: When It Is and What to Know About Start of Winter (ibtimes.com)
- Winter Solstice: Druids, Revellers and Pagans Conduct Ceremony at Stonehenge (PHOTOS) (ibtimes.com)