Winter Solstice – 21st December

December 21, 2014 — 77 Comments

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My Dad and two brothers have always been keen football fans. When we are all home for Christmas it is a tradition for us to all go and watch a match together.  It is something we used to do quite a lot when we were younger and living at home but now it takes a lot more organising.  One of the things I enjoy about Christmas is that you can inject a tiny little bit of glitz and glamour into any occasion. It was great way to spend the afternoon with my brothers especially as Manchester City won.

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Here in the northern hemisphere the 21st December brings with it the shortest day of the year. This marks the mid-way point of the winter months; with the promise of a new year and with it the beauty of spring and the warmth of the summer.

If this is the shortest day, I wondered why the mornings did not start to get brighter. My brothers explained that this was due to the tilt in the earth’s axis and the gravitational effect of the sun on the speed at which our planet rotates. Apparently we spin faster when we are closer to the sun and slower when we are further away. This causes our clocks to appear to be slightly out of sync with the solar day and so the mornings still seem to get darker as we play catch up.

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Anyway enough of the science, I wanted the reason to be all mystical and magical. Perhaps with a princess or two somewhere in there and maybe a dragon who was stealing the suns powers, trust science to bring that all crashing to a full stop.

The solstice has always intrigued people over the centuries and the strong emotional feelings that it provokes have made this date an important date throughout history.  For many people over the generations the winter has marked a period when little could be done as the weather worsened, the days grew shorter.

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Sunlight On Earth, During The Winter Solstice

There are many legends surrounding this time of year. The Norsemen who saw the sun as giant wheel whose rotation changed the seasons would light bonfires and gather around in the warmth to tell stories and drink sweet ale.

The ancient Romans celebrated this time year as the birth of the new year in their festival Saturnalia which ran for seven days from the 17th December. Which coincidently is my dad’s birthday! Spooky! During the festival it was common to turn convention on its head with men dressing as women, masters dressing as servants, the giving of gifts or presents and houses being decorated with greenery to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

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Our Yule Log “Colin The Caterpillar”

The Druids who are understood to have started the tradition of the Yule log did so as they believed that each year at this time the sun stood still for 12 days.  To overcome the darkness they would select a log and set it alight to banish evil spirits and welcome in the new year with the hope that it would bring with it good fortune.

It really is amazing to see just how many of these older traditions have been incorporated into our celebration of Christmas.  This is a special time of year to so many people of different faiths and cultures from all corners of the world. This festive season I believe that whatever you celebrate, do it with love in your heart and kindness in your thoughts.

 

77 responses to Winter Solstice – 21st December

  1. 

    A wonderful post! Happy Winter Soltice to you and your family!

  2. 

    Happy solstice, Charlotte thank you for sharing this interesting, and I think there were many dragons in this story, but your beauty and your rainbow sky voice is rendered as good as gold.

  3. 

    For us it is a summer soltice – celebrated with a bonfire on the beach. Merry Xmas to you and your family and wishing you all good things for 2015.

  4. 

    Very good stories telling here. I like them. Whatever you held in your hands in the last picture look very good 🙂 Merry Christmas!

    • 

      It’s a cake shaped like a caterpillar/Yule log. When I was little and had birthday parties Mum always bought a couple of Colin the Caterpillar cakes from Marks & Spencers and this week we noticed they made a Colin the Caterpillar Christmas cake it was too good to miss.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  5. 

    The Solstice is a magical time. Happy Christmas and wishes that the New Year brings you joy and gladness.

  6. 

    Very nice post, but not a mention of a carol!

  7. 

    The Winter Solstice is also very important to the Chinese. My wife ranks it ahead of the lunar new year in importance for a family gathering. I hope you and your family have a lovely time and I have to say I wish we had a Colin Yule Log. He looks good enough to eat.

    • 

      That’s interesting to know Andrew, we’ve our Grandparents this year on Christmas Day which is just lovely. We were going to save Colin the Yule log cake for Christmas but he was too delicious to resist and he’s gone now 😊.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  8. 

    Lovely post! My husband was pleased about the Man City win too. The evenings have started to draw out already to compensate us for the darker mornings. Spring is on its way, thank goodness. Happy Christmas Charlotte!

    • 

      My brother was ecstatic that we were able to score 3 with so many key strikers missing, it was a gorgeous day. It’s lovely that it’s so mild. Happy Christmas to all the family Clare.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        Thank-you! I hope that none of your friends were hurt in the terrible accident in Glasgow.

      • 

        It was a terrible shock, I immediately contacted friends I knew were still in Glasgow and fortunately they were all safe. So awfully sad that three people from the same family lost their lives and three others at this time of year to such a tragedy 💔.
        Thanks for thinking of us Clare,
        Best wishes
        Charlotte

  9. 

    Happy Solstice to you and your family Charlotte!The temperature is just at 0 celsius and we have not seen snow for a couple of weeks here in Sunny Calgary,Alberta!Just think the days will now be getting shorter and we shall all see more light!Happy Solstice .
    Leila Keith

  10. 

    Happy Holidays to you! Charlotte

  11. 

    Such a cheerful Christmassy post nicely connected with science and tradition ! Loved your last paragraph that embraces the world … Such a syncretic approach dear Charlotte !!! Wishing you & your loved ones a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year !
    Sending love ❤ & blessings , Doda 🙂

  12. 

    I just watched a documentary on the history of santa claus, and I found the different cultures of christmas fascinating. Your own traditions sound lovely, and you told the myths, cultures and wonders of this time very well in your post 🙂 really helped me get into the christmas spirit!

  13. 

    You raise an interesting point. Although the solstice is the ‘average’ shortest day the darkest evening is about the 12th, and the darkest morning around the 30th.
    Have a great Christmas and best wishes for 2015.

  14. 

    I ❤️your coat and hat! Gorgeous!

  15. 

    Lovely post, Charlotte! Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, and all good things in the New Year.

  16. 

    The Romans loved any excuse to have Toga Party.

  17. 

    hip hoppity thwop! went the snowball your way happy holidays :D. you know, enough of science? fooey on that! do you know… no, not the kenny rogers christmas classic mary did you know… I mean Calcium Carbide…miners pellets… are darn great snowy time of year fun? one must be 18! as this stuff can get out of hand and is probably the kind of fun that’s illegal the whole world over 😀 but with 40 pounds of vinegar one can be moderately conscious of the enviromental impact and there just isn’t anything like a flaming snowball or watching a snowbank come afire to melt the beer bottle…or rootbeer if you prefer.

  18. 

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂

  19. 

    Nothing like great tradition ~ wish you the best over this final week of the year, and onto more glory in ’15 🙂

  20. 

    Lovely post! What better than family! Beautiful photos & the dress also at the 1st! Merry Christmas for you & your family!

  21. 

    Good solstice story and a win by Man City always helps too!

    I hope you and your family enjoy the time together and try not to incorporate the cross dressing into your families tradition. A bit out of style these days…ha ha!

    Take Care!

    • 

      Thanks Steve, I have to be careful not to shout out too much lol 😃. I could just Imagine my family if I suggested that instead of our usual Christmas charades or Articulate 😄.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  22. 

    Your caterpillar yule log really brought a smile to my face, Charlotte. It has been a tough season here. Thanks for sharing and brightening my day.

  23. 

    A lovely post as always! And wow what a gorgeous tree!

    • 

      Thank you, Mum and Dad used to take us to pick a tree to have dug up but we ran out of room for them in the garden so we have an artificial one now but it looks real 😊. We always buy a Mum an ornament each for it every year.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  24. 

    I was asking the same question about the dark mornings, thank you for the answer.

  25. 

    Hiya Charlotte!

    Science is not…evil. Actually, it’s a great way to discover how things work. Although, it doesn’t explain “why” things work. That seems to be left up to various interpretations throughout history. By the way…nice hat.

    Eric

  26. 

    Fantastic post! Merry Christmas Charlotte! 😊

  27. 

    Reblogged this on jemsbooks and commented:
    Charlotte Hoather did a fascinating blog on Winter Solstice that I had to share. Thank you, Charlotte, for explaining it so well.

  28. 

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Charlotte! I am enjoying your 12 days of Christmas collage that you created and I won last year. I will send you a copy of it displayed! Thank you again. xo

  29. 

    Merry Christmas. That’s a beautiful picture of you at the Etihad. I don’t think they can beat Chelsea this year but they’ll make an impressive 2nd.

  30. 

    Most of this I did not know.
    Merry Christmas.

  31. 

    All the glitter around Christmas time may be very pleasant. It is also part of the world and that is just something about what the Nazarene rabbi, who also was called “son of God” spoke. He did know we had no choice than living in this world, but he warned us not to be of this world.

    Around Christmas time people would better ask: “What does Jesus have to do with Christmas?” and best you also would ask yourself and your readers if it would not be better as good Christians to avoid any connection with the pagan celebrations
    of the Christmas time.

    For many “true Christmas” may be defined by our love for one another
    and the love for all mankind, but that are elements every Christian
    should bear all the year through and not only around the birthday of the
    goddess of light.

    The Nazarene master teacher, rabbi, who we consider to be the kristos
    or Christ was born 4BCE October 17 and than I would wonder why you want
    to celebrate his birth on a totally different day plus using emblems,
    symbols which are an abomination in the eyes of God and of which many
    are heathen related and have nothing to do with the birth nor birthplace
    of Jesus Christ. (Santa Claus, Reindeers, Christmas trees, glass and
    plastic balls, etc)

    According to the Holy Scriptures there are really only two events we
    should remember, namely the Exodus from Egypt by Israel, the People of
    God, and the instalment of the New Covenant, the last supper of Jesus
    Christ on Nisan 14. That should be the most important day for every
    Christian and not the heathen festival of the goddess of light.

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