Winter Solstice 2015: Simple Ways to Celebrate

The solstice marks the official start of winter. As the season becomes drearier, there are certain winter traditions that span across ages and cultures.

  • Lights have always been a commonsweden-123784_640 theme, since the solstice is the darkest part of the year. At their most basic level holiday lights represent the desire for the sun to return. In pre-electric times people lit candles for ceremonies and to decorate their homes (such as the Jewish menorah, the German candle-lit Christmas trees, and the Anglo-Saxon Yule Log). A larger-scale version of this from ancient times are the Celtic and Scandenavian bonfires, which started at the onset of winter to drive away any evil spirits that might come with the extended darkness. Thomas Edison modernized this concept by introducing large-scale public electric light displays, which were quickly adopted by department stores and later the general public.
  • Bringing greenery into the home (suchchristmas-tree-1091532_640 as trees, mistletoe, and pine boughs) is another well-loved winter tradition that is shared by the Celts, Germans, and Ancient Romans. For thousands of years, this has remained one of the most beloved winter traditions for many people, as it has evolved into our modern Christmas trees and wreaths (although many are now artificial).
  • Feasting is another popular winterpig-558540_640 tradition with ancient origins that is seen around the world. This is a tradition that was born from the necessities of a rural lifestyle. In the winter, food became scarce for herbivores such as cattle, sheep, and swine, causing farmers to slaughter many of their animals to avoid the starvation of the whole herd. Because of this, there would be a large feast at the beginning of winter before the hungry winter months. This is where our holiday dinners come from.
  • Giving gifts is another popular traditiongift-687263_640 that has arisen independently in multiple areas. From the Hopi to the Romans, many cultures give at least small trinkets in December. This is another custom born of the agricultural cycle. With the farm work done for the year, people finally had the time and materials to make new things. Because of this, it became common for people to give each other new items at the end of the year in order to bring each other good fortune.

Happy Holidays!

Posted December 24th, 2015 by Admin
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