Probably the most celebrated day of the year across cultures ancient and modern, the Winter Solstice is a day of hope as it is the day of the rebirth of the life-giving sun.
As the world is tilted 23.5 degrees on it axis, one day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere it is tipped as far away from the Sun as possible. This is the Winter Solstice. This occurs in the Southern Hemisphere too. The difference is that it occurs when the the Northern Hemisphere is celebrating the Summer Solstice in June.
The significance is simple. For the last six months the days have been getting shorter and shorter. The nights are getting longer and longer. The sun is getting lower and lower in the sky. To the ancients there was real fear… the sun was going away. Suddenly the days stop getting shorter. Hurray! The sun starts to be higher in the sky. We are saved. While we are in for a long winter, hope is alive. The sun has returned and spring will come again. It is a time of celebration.
According to Forever Conscious, "The winter solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the sun and is believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection. In Pagan times the winter solstice was referred to as Yule and was a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy. It was believed that on this day, the moon would give birth to the sun." That certainly puts a slightly more magical spin on things!”
The Winter Solstice is a powerful transition point between seasons celebrated and revered in ancient civilizations, indigenous cultures, and various religions, all of which have their own special sites and rituals for taking advantage of the unique energy.
For example, predating even Stonehenge, the Newgrange, monument is located northeastern Ireland, and is thought to date back to about 3200 B.C. The mound contains a series of tunnels and channels through which at sunrise on the winter solstice, the sun pours into the main chambers. Maeshowe in Scotland is similar.
Many of the traditions of the Solstice have migrated to newer holidays in the West. The exchange of gifts and bonfires have moved to Christmas. The reflection on the coming year and the renewal of determination for a better life inn the next year has moved to New Years resolutions. But these and other holidays such as Yule all decent from the very real, and natural cycle of the Earth in her orbit of the Sun.
If you are already celebrating Christmas and New Years, don’t miss observing the basis of many of their traditions. Celebrate the return of the sun and the renewal of hope at the Equinox this year.One great way is to go outside. Experience the shortest day. After sunset go out again and experience the longest night. Even a few minutes will connect you with the Cosmos and bring the Universal energy of hope into your heart.