Today we mark the longest night and shortest day of the year. Many around the world will have gazed upon the sun as it rose, quietly giving thanks for the return of light. Some had the good fortune to stand at significant locations, such as Stonehenge, to welcome the bright star. I watched the sunrise from my backyard though grey clouds obscured it, pausing during barn chores to reflect on the rebirth of the day.
Winter Solstice has been celebrated for centuries around the globe. How many centuries? No one knows. It goes back to as far as the stones are old.
Solstice is the combination of two words: sol for sun and sistere for to stand still. The standing still of the sun happens twice a year: the first day of winter and of summer. It’s when the sun reaches its lowest and highest point respectively in the sky.
Pagans marked Winter Solstice as the night the Great Mother Goddess gave birth to the new sun, beginning a new cycle of the seasons.
Winter Solstice is also called Yule, the day of the huge log. Bonfires are lit and are surrounded by dancing and singing to awaken the sun from its winter sleep. After barn chores this evening, I lit a fire in the pit, but I did not sing or dance. I thought only of the burning away of the old year and the bringing in of the new as our little buck, Chippy, watched at his gate.
Nothing in life is guaranteed. Nothing. Not even the rising of the sun as tales from long ago tell of some days without a sun. And if you live in the far north this time of year, you’ll have many days without the rising sun.
Wherever you are and whatever you are up to today, may your day be grand. Happy Winter Solstice.