Happy Winter Solstice

Since before anyone kept records we have been celebrating Winter Solstice, the shortest day (and longest night) of the year. In prehistoric times people were afraid the sun would not return and performed elaborate rituals to encourage it back. In Roman times Saturnalia took place around December 25th, the date of the solstice in the Julian calendar, later adopted by the early Christian church as the alleged (but probably unlikely) date of the birth of Christ, leading to the celebration of Christmas.  And because other celebrations such as Hannukah and Kwanza arguably arose from the large-scale popularity of Christmas, we can thank the ongoing influence of the midwinter equinox for the host of celebrations taking place as the year comes to an end.

The word solstice comes from the Latin words for sun, “sol,” combined with the word “stitium,” which is to stop.  In our modern calendar Winter Solstice takes place this year December 22, which is today.  Any reason to celebrate is good so let’s continue humanity’s long tradition of merry-making and celebrate. Here we will do so with a chewy-velvety glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and some time thinking on things we are grateful for, like our friendships, our family, and that even though much seems awry in the world, we remain hopeful for a better future.  Happy Solstice all from Carl Kruse Dot Org.

Carl Kruse

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Moon over the Bremen cathedral

8 Comments

  1. I’ve received three private emails suggesting the celebration of the Solstice is some sort of Pagan (in one instance) and New Agey-Hippey (in two other cases) celebration. That promoting the winter solstice makes me look silly.

    I’ve got two things to say.

    The first is that almost any reason to celebrate with good cheer and without hurting anyone else is fantastic and something the world could use more of. In this regard, I am happy to join the historical — prehistoric really — folks that celebrated the winter equinox.

    The second is that without much debate and in all earnest, the celebrations of the solstice dating back eons were the precursor to every major religious holiday — Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Festivus, Coynemas, et al — and so by rights of first the winter solstice comes way before Christmas, to give an example. And no, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25 so stop it. December 25 was the day of the SOLSTICE in the Julian Calendar, which was used by the Roman Empire, and marked the Saturnalia celebrations. The early Christian church piggy-backed and appropriated Saturnalia as the birth of Christ to more easily convince everyone to move the party for Saturnalia to Christ. That’s the truth of the matter.

    You want to celebrate Christ. Go right ahead. But the celebrations of the winter solstice, coinciding with the astronomical phenomenon of the winter equinox, precede Christ by many thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years.

    Carl Kruse

  2. Here’s another vote saying to call it as it is Kruse. I enjoyed reading the quickie historical review of the solstice and how various celebrations sprung from it. Here’s wishing you a great 2016.

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