Winter Solstice and the plight for light

I am always fascinated by the seemingly nonchalant takeover of goods and services by the organized religions of the world, and yes, feel somewhat compelled to give a brief history lesson at times in order for these said religions to not get away totally ‘scott-free’.

Last night was a historical occasion as it marked the first time in 472 years that the Winter Solstice and a Lunar Eclipse occurred on the same day.

Archaeologists, Astronomists, Anthropologist, Historians and other well known scientists know that even during the Neolithic period (the Stone Age) circa 9500 BCE, societies understood, honored and even celebrated the Winter Solstice. It was a time when light was revered and the dark days of winter would start becoming less and less, even if food was still in short supply, and the warmth of the light didn’t accompany the glow of it.

In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar established December 25th as the day that the Romans (Europe) would celebrate the Winter Solstice. In 1582 (almost 1600 years later), Pope Gregory XIII decided to tweak the meaning of the Winter Solstice and began associating it, instead, with Christian Winter Feasts. His rationale for doing so was placed upon the Council of Nicea of 325
( )
– where the Christian Bishops (1800 strong) had met to come to consensus on key Christian beliefs. No heed was paid to the dictator, Caesar, or his Julian Calendar and instead the Vernal Equinox (Easter) was the key and all the other days would fall into place in order to support that astronomical event – and in Christianity, the re-birth of Christ.

Documentation from the beginning of the Common Era is sparse, however there are many references to the Yule, and the 12 days of Yuletide in the Northern European (Germanic and Norse) doctrines.

“About AD 730, the English historian Bede wrote that the Anglo-Saxon calendar included the months geola or giuli [yule] corresponding with either modern December or December and January.[3] He gave December 25 as the first day of the heathen year and wrote that the Anglo-Saxons celebrated all night long to honor the Germanic divine “mothers”..” ( ).

Delving further into the past, without supporting documentation per se, we can see how entire communities and societies were set up based upon the Winter and the Summer Solstice’s, and that there were celebrations around both of these times.

“This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in Britain and Newgrange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e., its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.[5] The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January and April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began…” ( ).

Whatever your holiday season holds near to you, please pick one of the following festivals ( ) and insert “Merry or Happy or Jovial” in front of it:

• Amaterasu celebration, Requiem of the Dead (7th century Japan)
• Beiwe Festival (Sámi of Northern Fennoscandia)
• Brumalia (Roman Kingdom)
• Choimus, Chaomos (Kalash of Pakistan)
• Christmas, Natalis Domini (4th century Rome, 11th century England, Christian)
• Deyg?n, Maidyarem (Zoroastrian)
• D?ngzhì Festival (East Asian Cultural Sphere and Mahayana Buddhist)
• The Winter Solstice Festival or The Extreme of Winter (Chinese and Japanese: ??; Korean: ??; Vietnamese: ?ông chí) (Pinyin: D?ng zhì), (R?maji: T?ji), (Romaja:Dongji)
• Goru (Dogon of Mali)
• Hanukkah
• Hogmanay (Scotland)
• Inti Raymi (Inca: Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador)
• Junkanoo, John Canoe, Dzon’ku ‘Nu (West Africa, Bahamas, Jamaica, 19th-century North Carolina, Virginia)
• Karachun (Ancient Western Slavic)
• Koleda, ??????, Sviatki, Dazh Boh (Ancient Eastern Slavic and Sarmatian)
• Lá an Dreoilín, Wren day(Celtic, Irish, Welsh, Manx)
• Lenæa (Ancient and Hellenistic Greece)
• Lohri (India)
• Lucia, Feast of St. Lucy (Ancient Swedish, Scandinavian Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox)
• Makara Sankranti, ??? ?????????? (India and Nepal, Hindu)
• Maruaroa o Takurua, (New Zealand, Maori)
• Meán Geimhridh, Celtic Midwinter (Celtic, Ancient Welsh, Neodruidic)
• Midvinterblót (Swedish folk religion)
• Midwinter (Antarctica)
• Modranicht, Modresnach (Germanic)
• Mummer’s Day, Montol (Celtic, Cornish)
• Perchta ritual (Germania, Alps)
• Rozhanitsa Feast (12th century Eastern Slavic Russian)
• Shab-e Chelleh, ???? , Yald? (2nd millennium BC Persian, Iranian)
• Sanghamitta Day (Buddhist)
• Saturnalia, Chronia (Ancient Greek, Roman Republic)
• ?ewy Yelda (Kurdish)
• Sol Invictus Festival (3rd century Roman Empire)
• Soyal (Zuni and Hopi of North America)
• We Tripantu (Mapuche in southern Chile)
• Yule, Jul, Jól, Joul, Joulu, Jõulud, Géol, Geul (Viking Age, Northern Europe, and Germanic cultures)
• Yule (Wiccan; Druidic}
• Zagmuk, Sacaea (Ancient Mesopotamia, Sumerian, Babylonian)
• Ziemassv?tki (Latvian, Baltic, Romuva)

Tis the season for new light, new and/or re-newed love, and much laughter with family, friends, and acquaintances alike. Peace to all and may each one of you shine on!

(if you have a special story around any of the aforementioned mid winter festivals, please comment.)

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