One of the oldest Winter celebrations in the World is the celebration of the Winter Solstice.
In the time when Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors, their lives was heavily influenced by the seasons and weather. Many Ancient people worshipped the sun. In fact the word ‘Yule’, is thought to have come from the Norse word for wheel ‘Houl’. The Norsemen of Ancient Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons, so at mid-winter, they would light Bonfires, tell stories and drink sweet ale.
If you were an Ancient Roman, this time of year was cause for celebration that lasted 7 days called, Saturnalia. The festival started on 17th of December and throughout the following seven days, houses were decorated with greenery, presents were given, processions flowed through the streets, candles were lit and ordinary rules were reversed – men dressed as women and masters dressed as servants !
In the UK, Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year, on the 21st of December. It has been celebrated since the time of the Druids – long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids would cut Mistletoe that grew on the Oak trees, and give it as a blessing. Oak trees were regarded as sacred and the Mistletoe a symbol of life in the dark Winter months.
Winter Solstice Art by Peter McDermott
The Druids also believed that the sun stood still for twelve days during the Winter months, so they would burn a log to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.
Now-a-days, many of these Ancient traditions have become part of the festivities at Christmas-time.
Enjoy the season, love and best wishes,
Elaine and David x