This year Winter Solstice falls on December 22nd, our shortest day of the year. What is Winter Solstice? At its most scientific, it can be defined per Wikipedia as ” Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere in December and for the Southern Hemisphere in June.”
I found a wonderful article in The Daily Telegraph, ‘What exactly is the winter solstice? By Cameron Macphail, complete with pictures of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge that defined the day as “sunstill” according to ancient tradition. Read it to find out why. Its a great article. Don’t miss out on it. But honestly, when searching out meanings for the Winter Solstice, you will be flooded with hits. Why?
Because its meaning and celebrations through the centuries makes it so much more than that simple sentence makes it out to be.
For many civilizations and cultures, the shortest day also meant the longest night of the year. For some a time when spirits visited, the separations between worlds narrows, when the bonfires are lighted to keep the spirits away, and all draw close around the fires. As Cameron Macphail points out, animals were slaughtered so they didn’t have to be fed in the winter, feasts were held, pagan celebrations in hope for a short winter, and fruitful spring.
Because Yule is also a celebration of the return of the sun, for that is what happens once the longest night is over. The sun’s rebirth starts the next day when starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs a bit higher and stays a bit longer in the sky every day.
From Yule by Akasha:
Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Gods. The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Spirits would come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit the residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration. It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.
The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.
Think…how many of these traditions are followed in some manner today.
No matter your Winter Solstice or Yuletide traditions, whether it be decorating with holly and the ivy or burning the yule log, may your long Winter Solstice night be filled with love, laughter, good books and cheer!
Now for This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
Sunday, December 20:
- Winter Solstice and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
- A Mika Advent Story Review: Not the Best Day by Brynn Stein
Monday, December 21:
- Cover reveal ‘Unquiet’ by Melanie Hansen (excerpt and contest)
- Anthology Spotlight: Men In Uniform (excerpt and giveaway)
- Wild & Sexy with ‘Dom of Ages’ by KC Wells & Parker Williams (excerpt/giveaway)
- A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Dom of the Ages by Will Parker and KC Wells
- An Ali Advent Story Review: Loving and Loathing Las Vegas by Lex Chase
Tuesday, December 22 (Winter Solstice) :
- Morticia Knight ‘Safe Limits’ book blast and giveaway
- When It’s Right (Mile High Romance #1) by Aria Grace tour and contest
- A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sleeping Til Sunrise by Mary Calmes
- A Paul Advent Story Review: Worth the Wait by Caitlin Ricci and Cari Z
- A BJ Review: A Policy of Lies by Astrid Amara
- A Stella Review: Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade
Wednesday, December 23:
- Coffee Sip and Book Break: Tina Blenke ‘Life Worth Living’ (excerpt and giveaway)
- A MelanieM Review: Down and Dirty by Rhys Ford
- A BJ Review: Turbulence (Turbulence #1) by Lyn Gala
- A Paul B Advent Story Review: Son of Santa by Kate Sands
- A Stella Review: Out of the Blues by Mercy Celeste
Thursday, December 24:
- Sidewinders are Back with Part & Parcel by Abigail Roux (Riptide Tour)
- A MelanieM Review: Part & Parcel by Abigail Roux
- A BJ Review: Cinder by Marie Sexton
- A Paul B Advent Story Review: Teddy Bear Christmas by CC Bridges
- A Free Dreamer Review: The Hot Floor by Josephine Myles
Friday, December 25 (Merry Christmas!)
- Caraway Carter ‘The First Time’ book blast and contest
- Nicolas by Dianne Hartsock virtual tour and giveaway
- A MelanieM Advent Story Review: Four Alternative Christmas Present by Tam MacNeil
- A BJ Review: Turbulence by Lyn Gala
- A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Flesh Market (Bodies and Souls #1) by Kate Lowell
- A Sammy Review: Rock Rod Studios Series by Emory Vargas
Saturday, December 26:
- A MelanieM Advent Story Review: An Assassin’s Holiday by Dirk Greyson
- An Aurora YA Review: Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me by Becky Jerams