Today, the Winter Solstice, is probably my favourite day of the year!
Living in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the turn of the seasons when the days begin to grow longer and the warmth of Summer is beginning its long return journey, true it’s also the real beginning of Winter, but hey you can’t have everything! I spare a thought for my friends South of the Equator for whom the opposite is true, your days will now start to shorten towards Autumn.
As I have grown older, the relevance of this turning point has grown stronger for me, I can rally attune to the Ancients who venerated the turning seasons and the Celestial Calendar. I suspect that my Celtic blood has a lot to do with this, so it won’t belong before I have to pop outside into the rain to grab the Yule Log plus Holly and Evergreen to decorate Dookes H.Q.!
It’s interesting to reflect that the origins of many common Christmas decorations such as the Yule Log and Wreath can trace back to pre-Christian times. You have to remember that though Christmas is a Christian celebration it is firmly superimposed on top of the much older Pagan Winter Festivals that predate it. Lets not forget that many other cultures and religions around the world also celebrate festivals at this time of the year and often they have light firmly as their focus.
Wreaths are traditionally made from evergreen symbolising strength and endurance as the evergreen lasts throughout even the hardest winter. The ring is also immortal, never-ending or beginning. I am pleased to report that Dookes H.Q. is currently displaying a splendid Wreath made by Mrs Dookes!
The importance of the Solstice in Neolithic times is witnessed by the many standing stone sites, such as Stonehenge, which were deliberately aligned to celebrate the Solstice. At Stonehenge the Great Trilithon stands with the it’s smooth face towards the mid-winter sunrise that rises and projects through the gap in the stones.For people who were dependant on the passing of the seasons the Winter Solstice was of phenomenal importance. Now was the time that surplus animals were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed through the winter and there was briefly an abundance of fresh meat to enjoy at the time that the rebirth of the sun began. So why not have a festival and party to celebrate the ending of one celestial year and the beginning of a new one? Sounds good to me, but then, I am a Derwydd/Druid!In the midst of all this rebirth stuff, remembering David and Dave who rode on ahead this year, one day we’ll talk to the trees again and the plan will come together!
Have a brilliant Solstice everyone!
“Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.”
Special thanks to Mark Grant for use of the Stonehenge photo.