Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice

The shortest day and the longest night of the year.  Death gives way to
rebirth.  The sun god starts his journey back towards us. 

ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated at the feast of
Saturnalia, while in pre-christian Britain, the end of December
centered around the pagan Yule log in a fiery display to melt the heart
of a cold and dreary winter. Today, a similar response to winter
doldrums is the celebration of Christmas by many cultures around the
world complete with twinkling lights, holiday feasts & lively

Winter solstice! A time of transition in the annual
war of light vs darkness, cold vs warmth, abundance vs shortage, life
vs death! All people in our northern climes have tended to view this as
the crucial time of year. A time to hold ceremonies designed to assist
nature in rebounding from the path toward oblivion to one directed
toward prosperity. A time to huddle at home with family and friends in
love and worship, or a time simply to hibernate, as much as possible,
sleeping more, and attempting to keep ones mind on other things.

has often been said that the greatest joy tends to follow deep sorrow.
What is so wonderful about the winter solstice is that once we are past
that moment of time we can look forward to brighter skies. Slowly at
first, then more rapidly as we go into January and February, days get
longer and everything around helps us celebrate the increase of light.
It speaks well for the human spirit that our greatest religious
celebrations take place at winter solstice time, as people radiate
warmth of fellowship and love on these dimmer days. The festivals of
darker days are really celebrations of light.

Winter Solstice
has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years.
This start of the solar year is a celebration of Light and the rebirth
of the Sun. In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul,
meaning wheel.

Today, many people in Western-based cultures
refer to this holiday as "Christmas." Yet a look into its origins of
Christmas reveals its Pagan roots. Emperor Aurelian established
December 25 as the birthday of the "Invincible Sun" in the third
century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly
thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent
the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was
Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and
linked with the visit of the Magi, was originally an Egyptian date for
the Winter Solstice.

Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and
rituals associated with "Christmas" actually are linked to Winter
Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures. While Christian
mythology is interwoven with contemporary observances of this holiday
time, its Pagan nature is still strong and apparent. Pagans today can
readily re-Paganize Christmastime and the secular New Year by giving a
Pagan spiritual focus to existing holiday customs and by creating new
traditions that draw on ancient ways.

If you're really
interested, follow the second link to read about the traditions and
where they came from.  Much of our Christmas holiday has its roots in
pagan ritual.  I find it fascinating.

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