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Winter Solstice

Dec 21, 2015

Winter is officially upon us with the first day of winter falling on December 22nd in 2015. Read on to learn more about this annual season change.

What Is It?

Winter solstice marks the beginning of winter and it's also the shortest day of the year. Because of the earth's tilt, on this day the Northern Hemisphere is as far away from the sun as it can be. Therefore, the first day of winter has the least amount of sunlight.


Solstice means "standing still sun" and has historically been a day for celebration . This tradition started with an ancient fear that the fading light would never return unless humans kept watch and had a huge celebration. Tons of cultures and societies have solstice celebrations. Here are some of the craziest highlights!

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the yearThe Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year

Ancient Greece

The winter solstice celebration was called Lenaia (Festival of the wild women). According to Greek myth, a man representing the harvest god Dionysus was sacrificed and then eaten by nine women! It was believed that Dionysus would be reborn as a baby when the ritual was complete. Eventually a goat was used as a sacrifice in place of the human for the ritual.

Winter Solstice scenery Winter Solstice scenery

Ancient Rome

Huge feasts were held and houses and halls were decorated with boughs of evergreen trees. Roman masters feasted with slaves and slaves were also allowed to do and say pretty much what they wanted, which was very different than what their everyday lives were like. Because this was such an important day, schools were closed, the army took a day of rest and no criminals were executed.

Pagan Scandinavia

Yule logs were burned because they believed the log could magically make the sun brighter. Europe and many other places still burn the Yule log, but it is now just a symbolic gesture. Scandinavians also listened to minstrel poets sing about ancient legends.

The Winter Solstice was celebrated by Druids and PagansThe Winter Solstice was celebrated by Druids and Pagans

Celtic Druids

Mistletoe was sacred to Druids. Druid priests used a golden sickle (kind of a hooked blade) to cut it from the tree it was growing on. Then they handed it out to the people, calling it All-Heal. The people hung it in a doorway or a room to offer goodwill to visitors. Mistletoe was forbidden in most Christian churches because of its Pagan associations.

Have Your Say

How do you celebrate winter solstice? Leave a comment and let us know!



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Which is NOT True of Winter Solstice?

  • Due to global warming, there will not be a winter solstice in 2014.
  • When it is winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, it is summer solstice in the Southern.
  • There is no sunlight in the North Pole during the winter solstice.
  • Evidence of winter solstice rituals exists around the world.

Random In The Forums

mogu posted in Debating:
can't wait for the GOP tears. Go Shillary. 
reply about 3 hours
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"jordand08" wrote:   If Hillary wins, itll be a big deal. She can/will legalize it to be whenever the mother chooses. No. That's not fair. A baby didn't choose to come into this world, you (the parent) put them in it.  You can't be like "oh, I don't think I'll be a good parent even though it's 7 months into my pregnancy." And think abortion is a rational decision. More than that, a mother can get an abortion up until her due date. I think that a baby, even at one week, is just as valuable as a baby at eight months...but killing a perfectly viable and developed child is certainly more cruel. 
reply about 3 hours
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"Wishyouweremehehe" wrote:women should have a right to choose an abortion up until the term in its pregnancy when it can actually sense itself which is about 6 months old, and guess what you cant actually abort a baby after 6 months in clinics so its not a big deal 1. What does it mean to sense oneself?  2. Why is self awareness the difference between life and death? 
reply about 3 hours
jordand08 posted in Food:
I like them both, I don't like one more than the other.
reply about 3 hours
austin312so posted in Food:
oo this is hard to choose, since i work with both of them. my parents have a store and they sell both of them, i'll choose coke (nestea fan)
reply about 4 hours