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Winter Solstice

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Forums -> Site Spells Discussion -> Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 1
We now approach Yule. A very ancient tradition. It has many names, many spellings, but all are at one with the solstice; the shortest day, the longest night. This was a time of "resting", of festivities. The earth was "sleeping". The land had been dug (ploughed), and the winter frosts would be "breaking up" the earth, ready for planting in the Spring. The festival would normally start on the eve of the solstice, and continue to "worship" the coming Sun, as from now on,the nights would get shorter,the days longer.
We now focus on the "calendar", but the ancients had no notion of actual "dates". They only knew of the changing seasons of the year.
In fact, the early calendars had only ten months!( periods of the year) December actually means ten! So Yule was not a date in a calendar, it was the winter solstice;longest night. In the days of the great "kings" with the huge "hearths", there would burn the Yule log. Often a whole tree! The base of the tree was first put into the fire, and as it burned, the tree would be moved forward into the flames. This Yule log would often burn for twelve days, the original time of Yule. (The Christians stole it as the twelve days of Christmas.) And so, to all the newbies, and the young and the old, I give Bright Blessings for Yule! Spring is not far away!
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Re: Winter Solstice
By:
Post # 2
From the Norse, Iul,, meaning wheel) In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millennia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.
Celtic Celebrations of Winter
The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.
Roman Saturnalia
Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn, and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honor an agricultural god.
One of the four Minor Sabbats:
The Goddess gives birth to a son, the God, at Yule who died at Samhain (circa on or about December 21 but it can vary from year to year). Yule is the celebration of the Goddess becoming the Great Mother. This is in no way an adaptation of Christianity. The winter solstice has long been viewed as a time of divine births. Mithras was said to have been born at this time. The Christians simply adopted it for their use in 273 C.E. (Common Era).
Yule is the time of the greatest darkness and is the shortest day of the year. Earlier peoples noticed such phenomena and supplicated the forces of nature to lengthen the days and shorten the nights. Pagans sometimes celebrate Yule just before dawn, then watch the sunrise as a fitting finale to their efforts.
Since the God is also the Sun, this marks the point of the year when the Sun is reborn as well. Thus the Pagan light fires or candles to welcome the sun's returning light. The Goddess, slumbering through the winter of her labor, rests after her delivery. Yule is the remnant of early rituals celebrated to hurry the end of winter and the bounty of spring, when food was once again readily available. To contemporary Pagan, it is a reminder that the ultimate product of death is rebirth, a comforting thought in these days of unrest.
Yule is a good time to think about your hopes for the coming year, and your plans and aspirations.
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Re: Winter Solstice
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 3
A good post.NoFear; and an accurate history lesson for our newbies.
The old traditions are still with us, are they not? And it is good that you have taken the trouble to write it as a post. Thank you.
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Re: Winter Solstice
By:
Post # 4
Thank you both for this post. Loved reading it!
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Re: Winter Solstice
By:
Post # 5
Does Yule fall on December 21st this year also?
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Re: Winter Solstice
By:
Post # 6
^Yes, Yule falls on the 21st, which also happens to be a Full Moon! How exciting. :)
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Re: Winter Solstice
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 7
The original Yule began on the 20th. Festivities would go on through the night to celebrate the Sun at daybreak, the 21st being the shortest day,leading to the longest night. As a Pagan I still celebrate from the 20th to the 23rd. From the the 21st the days get longer. But very slowly of course!
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