On December 21, 2010, here in Richmond, Virginia at 6:38 PM Eastern Time, 23:38 UTC (Universal Time) winter begins.
You can easily see Saturn in the night sky. It isn't as bright as Jupiter, but you can tell that's a planet, because of the lack of twinkle, that a star gives out.
Even a small, home telescope will let you see some of the large moons and the rings. Sunrise washes both planets out.
Celebrations were often timed for about the 25th.
Others reject the importance of all celebrations other than the holy day recognized by their own religion. Some even reject their religion's holy days which are seen to have Pagan origins (e.g. Easter and Christmas) which are viewed by other religions as being inspired by Satan. Thus the solstice celebrations of other religions are rejected because they are seen to be Satanic in origin.
"At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing" and showing the image of a baby to the worshipers."
The women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth.
At the time, Mithraism and Christianity were fierce competitors. Aurelian had even declared Mithraism the official religion of the Roman Empire in 274 CE. Christianity won out by becoming the new official religion in the 4th century CE.
Eightfold Path that he advocated. This day is generally regarded as the birth day of Buddhism. Being an Eastern tradition, Bodhi Day has none of the associations with the solstice and seasonal changes found in other religious observances at this time of year. However, it does signify the point in time when the Buddha achieved enlightenment and escaped the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth through reincarnation -- themes that are observed in other religions in December.
Eastern churches began to celebrate Christmas after 375 CE.The church in Jerusalem started in the 7th century.Ireland started in the 5th centuryAustria, England and Switzerland in the 8thSlavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries.
"Dancing, masques, mummeries, stageplays, and other such Christmas disorders now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalian and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them." -Polydor Virgil, a 15th century British Christian
DRUIDISM: Druids and Druidesses formed the professional class in ancient Celtic society. They performed the functions of modern day priests, teachers, ambassadors, astronomers, genealogists, philosophers, musicians, theologians, scientists, poets and judges. Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within fenced groves of sacred trees. The solstice is the time of the death of the old sun and the birth of the dark-half of the year.
It was called Alban Arthuan by the ancient Druids.
It is the end of month of the Elder Tree and the start of the month of the Birch. The three days before Yule is a magical time. This is the time of the Serpent Days or transformation...The Elder and Birch stand at the entrance to Annwn or Celtic underworld where all life was formed. Like several other myths they guard the entrance to the underworld. This is the time the Sun God journey's thru the underworld to learn the secrets of death and life. And bring out those souls to be reincarnated. A modern-day Druid, Amergin Aryson, has composed a Druidic ritual for the Winter Solstice.
"It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family. It is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties."
Is it by coincidence that it has occurred during December in recent years?
"Today's menorahs have nine branches; the ninth branch is for the shamash, or servant light, which is used to light the other eight candles. People eat potato latkes, exchange gifts, and play dreidel games. And as they gaze at the light of the menorah, they give thanks for the miracle in the Temple long ago."
"the rites are built around the sun, the coming new year and the rebirth of vegetation in the spring....Winter solstice rites include...prayerstick making, retreats, altars, emesis and prayers for increase."
At the solstices and equinoxes, the sun rises and sets at notches or peaks in the ridge which surrounded the calendar.
NEOPAGANISM: This is a group of religions which are attempted re-creations of ancient Pagan religions. Of these, Wicca is the most common; it is loosely based on ancient Celtic beliefs and practices. Wiccans recognize eight seasonal days of celebration. Four are minor sabbats and occur at the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The other are major sabbats which happen approximately halfway between an equinox and solstice. The winter solstice sabbat is often called Yule. It is a time for introspection, and planning for the future. Wiccans may celebrate the Sabbat on the evening before the time of the actual solstice, at sunrise on the morning of the solstice, or at the exact time of the astronomical event.
One can only speculate on the significance of the winter solstice to the builders.
The horizontal dimension of the box matches the width of the sun as viewed from the back of the passage. In the years since the tomb was constructed by Neolithic farmers, the Earth's tilt on its axis has changed from about 24° to about 23° now. As a result, the sun rises about two solar diameters farther south today.
This happens at sunrise at and near the winter solstice. Starting in the late 1990's, live video and still images have been broadcast to the world via the Internet.
"It is a festival of community where everyone relaxes and socializes. It is also the traditional night to recognize new members of the community or a coven, or to perform rites of passage.""Christmas." Yet a look into its origins of Christmas reveals its Pagan roots. Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the "Invincible Sun" in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi, was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice.
Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with "Christmas" actually are linked to Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures. While Christian mythology is interwoven with contemporary observances of this holiday time, its Pagan nature is still strong and apparent.
"Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom? There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our understanding." --Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of ChristmasAs the Sun moves into Capricorn on the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. It is a time of darkness. The leaves have been decaying in autumn and at last they re-enter the ground, where they wait, suspended in the cold earth, ready to be reborn in the spring. The cold settles in and starts to penetrate the earth itself. Life below and above the surface goes into hibernation. People stay indoors, animals either go into hibernation, find shelter or were housed out of the cold by farmers. It was a time to go within and wait. Here, Mother Nature has to be respected. It is a time to plan for survival.
"Never fear, our beloved Daughter Earth, for though the sunlight grows faint upon you, the light of the Son will soon return, that all creation may awaken and live again."
Winter Solstice 2012
The Equal Night
Summer Solstice 2010
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