Winter arrives officially today, December 21, 2009 @ 12:47 PM.
The Winter Solstice has been observed in most cultures since time began. It signaled the shortest day of the year. Early people looked on winter as a time of dread. In ancient times, many people didn’t make it through the winter. They died or their loved ones died. They battled the elements, faced starvation, ran out of fuel, and were often ravaged by disease. Winter was deadly to early people. Even as late as last century, winter could spell destruction for people. Depending on where you live and your circumstances, winter can be deadly even in our modern culture.
While most cultures celebrated the Winter Solstice, one might ask, why celebrate? Good question. All sorts of superstitions and rituals were performed for good luck and to ward off bad things and evil that could happen. Of all early people, the Celts are probably the group many of us are most familiar with who celebrated Winter Solstice.
In Celtic myth, the Holly king and the Oak king, twins, were in a continual struggle for domination. At the Winter Solstice, the Holly King is overpowered and the Oak King rules until he is overthrown at the Summer Solstice. Winter Solstice is a time for celebration because it marks the beginning of the days getting longer. The cycle of the year is represented by this turmoil of continual struggle. Neither can exist without the other.
Many of our Christmas traditions include pagan ritual involving Winter Solstice. Yule logs, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Mistletoe, the date of Christmas, holly, all have roots in pagan culture or in other religions. Religions do not just spring up in isolation. They merge and infuse and often take the old beliefs and remodel them into newer ones.
So regardless of your religion or culture, you are sure to find a fit somewhere in the winter holiday season around the Winter Solstice. Most of us are fortunate enough to be able to throw another log on the fire and sit back and let the winds howl outside.
Seasonal music on the next page
Please check out the howling in the last video.
Sample of Winter Seasonal Music
Paul Winter Consort 2008 Winter Solstice Concert Wolf Eyes
Link to Newgrange, Ireland, site of Megalithic Passage Tomb which was built about 3200 BC. The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. Anyone with an interest in early people will find this place fascinating. How did ancient man acqire this sort of knowledge?