Winter Solstice


#1

Just wondering if there is anyone else out there who celebrates winter solstice. I recently heard a lot more about Newgrange in Ireland. This stone structure is 5000 years old and is the oldest stone building around. For several years archeologists puzzled over the function of the large stone dome-like structure. Then someone discovered that on winter solstice a beam of sunlight will shine really deep into the center of the completely dark chamber. A friend of mine has seen pictures of what it looks like, and it resembles a solid beam of sunlight completely surrounded by darkness.

Is this perhaps the first holy day/holiday celebrated by people?

Just wondering…when you have major winter storms blowing in that threaten to engulf a region in feet of snow and no power you get a whole different perspective on why some of our ancestors might have taken some serious time to honor the sun and its return at this time.


#2

At the latitude that most of us on this board live at, if you live at least one full cycle of a year without electricity or indoor plumbing, the solstices and equinox’s take on a very real meaning.
Here at this time we have 8 hours of daylight and 16 hours of dark. Before we got electricity that had a huge impact on how we lived through the winter months. We commonly slept 12 hours a night. In a house with grid power the solstice becomes an abstraction. I can stay up till midnight doing things I could have only done in the daytime before. Even at the solstice time I might only get 6 hours of sleep each night.
All the ebb and flow is gone. The rythm of the seasons is a romantic notion.

Groundhog day, Candlemas has long been one of my favorite milestones of the year. For me it’s like the first hint of dawn that you see in the eastern sky in the morning.


#3

Ai’m celebrating solstice today. For me, that means fasting the whole day, no sexual activities (hard one for me), and a death-and-darkness-honoring ritual at night. Ai try to sleep as long as ai can during the winter.


#4

Yeah, the sleep/hibernating aspect of this time of the year seems to be one of the things that Civ has really removed from us. Working with patients through Chinese Medicine, so many of them breathe a deep sigh of relief when they are given permission to actually sleep more in the winter. I’ve heard stories of Cherokee elders who in historical times actually went into a sort of hibernation sleep for up to a month. They would just sleep for huge periods of time (like 20+ hours a day) and would barely eat or drink or even urinate or defecate. It seems like an important adaptation, especially if food stores were low.

Btw, I’ve also really noticed a change around Feb. 1st for Imbolg/Candelmas. I read that in parts of Europe that day was celebrated as Bear’s Day. Hunters would go out and check to see if the bears were stirring in their dens. If they were, it meant winter would soon be over. If not, more winter. Obviously, this was the precursor to Groundhog’s day.


#5

It seems like a cruel joke that capitalist civ has made the months leading up to Winter Solstice the busiest time of the year. :frowning: ???


#6

So for Winter Solstice my husband and I went out and greeted the Dawn, and gave thanks to the Creator for the 4 Seasons, and the changing to a new one… This eve we will light a fire and cast our regrets for the past year on pieces of paper (on already used paper, like old envelops) and burn them.

These dark days, are the season of story telling. Where we weave the stories of our region, some from the old ones, some new ones for our time of “Great Remembering” that help us on our journey.


#7

Really enjoyed reading this thread today! Our family usually celebrates with a walk and poems or stories. Here’s one poem (Wendell Berry’s “To Know the Dark”) we all know by heart by now that gets us in the mood for taking at least one walk in the dark this time of year.

One thing that always comes up for us at the solstice: the difficulty of finding total darkness in the city (Portland, OR) even on the darkest day of the year. We have to really hunt for it.

Happy solstice!