In the northern latitudes, midwinter’s day has been an important time for celebration throughout the ages. The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. On this shortest day of the year, and longest night, the sun is at its lowest and weakest; a pivotal turning point of the year from which the light will grow stronger and brighter. The Romans called it Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.
The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs around December 21st each year in the Northern Hemisphere.
It was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures saw it as recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around this time. Stonehenge in the UK is a popular place to celebrate the shortest day of the year.
Most importantly, it also happens to be my Birthday, making it for me an auspicious time indeed…