Many Gays and Lesbians Celebrate The Winter Solstice
December 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm MST the Sun is reborn.
The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, sun and -stitium, a stoppage. Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.
In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun’s path within a few days after the solstice — perhaps by December 25th.
The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January and April. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.
I used to live in Illinois and let me assure you that after three months of gray and ever darkening skies the rebirth of the sun is truly a time to celebrate. Although you will have another three months of gray dark skies you have made it past the mid point and from here on the days get lighter and longer with the promise of warm days ahead.
Living in the high mountain desert I don’t have quite the problem with gray overcast misery…most days are brilliant blue sun filled skies. Cold yes, but lots of wonderful sunshine. Unfortunately the day still ends at 4:30 with the cabin settling into the shadows by 3 in the afternoon. This becomes critically important when your house is solar powered. The dying sun impacts more than your mood it reduces peak charging from 10 hours of supercharged light in the summer to 4 hours of anemic sunshine mid winter.
The winter solstice is truly a time to celebrate for myself and anyone using the abundance of our sun to power their home. So how best to celebrate this rebirth of the sun. Well here are some some ancient festivals our distant ancestors partook in to celebrate the winter solstice.
ANCIENT EGYPT: The god-man/savior Osiris died and was entombed on December 21st. “At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying ‘The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing” and showing the image of a baby to the worshipers.”
ANCIENT GREECE: The winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day. Later in the ritual, Dionysos would be reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by the killing of a goat. The women’s role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth. Wine miracles were performed by the priests, in which priests would seal water or juice in a room overnight and the next day they would have turned into wine. The miracle was said to have been performed by Dionysus.
ANCIENT SAMI: The indigenous people of Finland, Sweden and Norway, worship Beiwe, the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity. She travels through the sky in a structure made of reindeer bones with her daughter, Beiwe-Neia, to herald back the greenery on which the reindeer feed. On the winter solstice, her worshipers sacrifice white female animals. They also cover their doorposts with butter so Beiwe can eat it and begin her journey once again.
ANCIENT PERSIA: People gathered for observance of Yalda, in which families kept vigil through the night and fires burned brightly to help the sun (and Goodness) battle darkness (thought evil).
ABORIGINAL AND NEOPAGANS: These groups see time as circular and repetitive, with lunar (monthly) and solar (yearly) cycles. Their rituals guarantee the continuity of nature’s cycles, which traditional human societies depend on for their sustenance.
A great day to cast off the negativity of your past and recommit to the future. A natural time for New Years resolutions.
So, I shall build a large and bountiful bonfire of freshly cut pinon and cedar maybe even some old sacred plywood. Around this roaring fire I will dance drinking my most rare ale and sampling my most tender meats. (bud light and spam) I will continue until the sun peaks shining its approving countenance upon me. (or I run out of scrap wood).
Seriously if you are bone chilled and have not seen the sun for 2 months or are having to cut back on power hungry niceties the Winter Solstice really is a day to celebrate.
Happy Solstice Everyone!
EXTRA SPECIAL TREAT TONIGHT
For a few hours on the night of Dec. 20 to Dec. 21, the attention of tens of millions of people will be drawn skyward, where the mottled, coppery globe of our moon will hang completely immersed in the long, tapering cone of shadow cast out into space by our Earth. If the weather is clear, favorably placed skywatchers will have a view of one of nature’s most beautiful spectacles: a total eclipse of the moon.
Amazing Spectacle: Total Lunar Eclipse Monday Night – Yahoo! News.
Build a fire, drink a little, dance and celebrate the new year.