First Day Of Winter
However you plan on marking the winter solstice this year we're sure that you'll be hoping (as we are) that the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness will bring hope to many after such a difficult year.
The winter solstice is an ancient pagan festival and marks the first official day of the astronomical winter season when the North Pole is at its greatest tilt from the Sun, bringing with it 'the long night' and the shortest day in the Northern hemisphere.
The 21st December 2020 will see another special astronomical event, the closest Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn for almost 400 years! Saturn itself has long been associated with the winter solstice and ancient Romans celebrated the event with the Feast of Saturnalia in honour of Saturn, the god of agricultural bounty.
Winter Solstice Celebrations
In the UK, Pagan and Druid communities celebrate the first sunrise after the event, welcoming the 'new sun'. The winter solstice would have been a time when cattle and livestock would be slaughtered so that they wouldn't need to be fed during the winter months. This meant that fresh meat would be plentiful and allowed great feasts to be had prior to the bleak 'famine months' of the winter.
Saturnalia was originally celebrated on 17th December and is thought to date back to as early as 217 BC. The liveliest of the Roman Festivals would last for 7 days, slaves would be given temporary freedom and debauchery on the streets of Rome would be prevalent. Towards the end of the festival gifts of candles, waxed fruits and statues would be given... there would also be a human sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn - but we'll skip over that part!
Feast of Juul ('Yule')
A Scandinavian festival which would involve the lighting of fires which symbolised the heat and light of the returning sun, this is where we get the term 'Yule log' from. A tree would be ceremoniously brought into the house and the largest end of the log placed into the fireplace. The log would then be fed into the fire as it burnt. The last part of the Yule log would often be kept for kindling for next years log.
Celebrated in Iran, the Shab-e-Chelleh or Night of Forty marks the arrival of winter and the renewal of the sun and is said to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. This particular tradition involves the eating of watermelons and pomegranate to ensure health and well being and the reading of mythological poetry.
The Perfect Winter Solstice Candle
There could only be one... Starry Night. Musk, Sandal, Amber, Vanilla, Myrrh and Tonka combine to bring warmth and desire to any space and ideal whilst you search the night sky for the Christmas Star (The Great Conjunction).