Celebrating the Winter Solstice and Christmas Dec 22 and 25

Celebrating the Winter Solstice and Christmas Dec 22 and 25There are two major celebrations in the month of December, one Christian and one Pagan – one see in the stars and one led by a star. How do you celebrate the Winter Solstice and Christmas? Do you celebrate them both or only one? Do you see the Solstice as just the changing of the seasons or do you see the rituals that people celebrated for years before Christianity and for many continued afterwards?

In reality these two celebrations are not so very different. The Winter Solstice celebrates the return of the light following the longest night of the year. It celebrates the beginning of the end of winter even as it marks the beginning of winter. The Solstice rituals celebrate the return of the sun as Christmas celebrates the coming of the Son.

Winter Solstice December 22, 2013

The Winter Solstice is also known as midwinter, when the noon sun is at the lowest level above the horizon. The December date for the solstice is a Northern Hemisphere date for the Southern solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere it is a June date and a Northern solstice. While the Winter Solstice often corresponds with the beginning of winter, the solstice is not about that. It is about the time in which the days begin to be longer and the nights begin to be shorter once you pass that date.

Throughout the world there are festivals, rituals, celebrations, and gatherings to mark the Winter Solstice and the celebration of light and rebirth. Because the solstice marked the actual movement to longer days and shorter nights, it also came to represent the beginning of the season of agricultural rebirth and natural breeding time for animals. It was the time of preparation for spring when life would be reborn and the earth would once again be capable of sustaining life.

At this midwinter festival, animals were slaughtered so that they could provide food for the winter and would not need to be fed themselves during the winter. In most of these cultures the festival was seen as the Sun God being born or reborn, as the sun is reborn into longer days.

Out of this came a wide variety of festivals and celebrations all around the world prior to the scientific revolution. Some of these festivals included Beiwe (Saami) of the indigenous peoples of Norway, Sweden and Finland celebrating the sun goddess. Brumalia was a Roman celebration influenced by the Greeks and held for an entire month ending on December 25th.

The Incas celebrated Inti Raymi also known as the Festival of the Sun. This was a religious celebration that the empire of the Incas used to celebrate winter solstice and honor the sun god. Since this was in the Southern Hemisphere it was celebrated on June 24th, corresponding with the Christian December 24th Christmas eve.

Christmas December 25,2013

Established by the Romans in about the 4th century Christmas or Christ’s Mass is the second most important Christian celebration and holiday. It is probably the most celebrated midwinter festival of all, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas celebrates the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The December 25th date was the date that the winter solstice was celebrated in Rome. Christmas began with feasting, singing songs about the birth of Jesus, midnight Masses and incorporating the tradition of gift giving from St. Nicholas.

The Yuletide or Yule celebration was another winter festival that was initiated by the people of Northern Europe. First it was a pagan festival, and then it became a part of Christmas. With the advent of the Julian calendar or Christian calendar the Yule celebration became on December 25th along with Christmas.

The terms Yule or Yuletide are now synonymous with Christmas. At the same time the Yule Tide is a pre-Christian pagan festival associated with Wicca.

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