All the very best of the Winter Solstice greetings and wishes to all!
The exact point of Solstice is at 23:38 UTC, which is when the Sun enters Capricorn. In the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the longest night and also the gradual returning of light to the world as the days gradually lengthen once again.
What makes this year’s Winter Solstice extra special is that there is a Lunar Eclipse fall on the same day, for the first time since 1638. Sadly, it was not possible for me to view the Lunar eclipse as the skies were cloudy here, and no doubt the hills would have obscured my view of the Moon in any case.
In my immediate environment, in the Northern Hemisphere, nature is in it’s annual dormancy and the return of the light from this day on is a reason enough to celebrate the continuation of nature’s seasonal cycle. With the snow still covering the ground, life having slowed down due to the freeze here in the UK, there’s an even bigger sense of the big sleep of nature.
The Winter Solstice had, no doubt, great significance to prehistoric people, no doubt linked to the uncertainty of seeing life through the harsh winter months. Evidence for this remains in the apparent alignments of Neolithic and Bronze Age sites such as Stonehenge (Winter Solstice 2010 at Stonehenge) in England and Newgrange (Winter Solstice at Newgrange 2010) in Ireland to astronomical events such as the Winter Solstice. The lives of these people depended very much upon the seasons and weather and it must have been important for them to mark the cycles of the seasons in some way, just as we do still.
The Feast of Yule was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia. At this time of year, fires were lit to symbolise the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning Sun. A Yule log was brought in and burned in the hearth in honour of the god Thor. A piece of the log was kept to act as both a good luck token for the year and to act as kindling from which the next year’s Yule log was lit. Ashes from the log were also collected to be spread on the fields to ensure a good harvest that year.
There are many festivals coinciding with the Winter Solstice around the world, as can be easily read about on the web – see for instance Wikipedia.
How will I be spending the day? Well, not as I would in years past. Normally, I’d replace my bundle of mistletoe at dawn, burning last year’s old bunch. This will have to wait for a day or two until I can get out and about! The mistletoe hung in the home acts as a protection against negative thoughts and deeds. Burning it releases and purifies that which it has absorbed over the year. Part of the day will be spent in meditation/quiet thought/reflection on the past year and particularly upon the progress I have made in achieving goals in life and giving thanks for all those people and circumstances which have aided me in my progress, whether they realised it or not, and whether I realised it or not at the time! Sometimes, the people and situations that vex us most are responsible for the greatest progress in our personal development.
How will you spend the day?
- Guardian – Article about the coincidence of Solstice and the Lunar Eclipse
- National Geographic – Article about the coincidence of the Solstice and the Lunar Eclipse
- Winter Solstice at Time and Date.com
- December Solstice Traditions at Time and Date.com
- Winter Solstice on Wikipedia
- Yule on the BBC website