fun in the sun
Winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Traditionally, it is a time of both foreboding and expectancy, as the longest night leads to the revival of the sun. And yet it is a turning point, when the sun reaches its southernmost point from the equator and seems to pause before reversing course. “Solstice” in Latin means “the sun standing still.”
In ancient times, observers watched the sun sink lower in the sky each day, and feared it would disappear completely and leave them in darkness.
People practiced special rituals intended to entice the sun’s return. Bonfires and candles, with their imitative magic, helped fortify the waning sun and ward off the spirits of darkness. These symbols live on in our modern seasonal customs: the candles of Hanukkah and Christmas are kin to the fiery rites of old, which celebrated the miracle of the earth’s renewal.
These traditions reflect our need to come together in times of extended darkness. We celebrate not only the rebirth of the sun, but the community of life on earth.
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Click the bottom arrow on the frame for continuous playing (2 1/2 hours) of 46 versions of The Holly and The Ivy, another one of those ancient pagan carols absconded by the church to pack its pews. The rising of the sun and the running of the deer...
The longest night of the year is passing, the dawn of a new day is about to begin and this Neolithic monument waits in the darkness for a finger of light to enter through its passageway and illuminate its central chamber, just as it did over 5,000 years ago when the monument was constructed.