Winter Solstice: Yule, The Longest Day of the Year

Winter solstice is December 21, and its a holiday of it’s own. Have you ever for the term Yuletide? This is the pre-Christian holiday celebrating winter solstice, the shortest day of year, and beginning of the increasing of light. Daylight has been decreasing since the summer solstice on June 21, with the day being longest on December 21.

Winter Solstice in Pagan Traditions

Yuletide is a pagan holiday that was celebrated in Germanic-speaking/Celtic countries. However, it became Christmas once Christianity became popular and institutional. Many Christmas traditions, including Christmas trees, originated from the Yuletide celebration.

Yuletide a celebration of the coming of the light. It would seem odd to celebrate this on the shortest day of the year. Yet, this is exactly why it’s celebrated: it’s the promise of spring coming again. Evergreens, like trees and holly, are used to decorate to remind people of life.

December 21st is also the first day of Capricorn. Capricorn represents productivity, patience, and responsibility. It took a lot of work to prepare for the winter, and now, you wait for spring. Also, winter is a time of sacrifice and austere living.

Capricorn represents both these things. We had plenty during the summer and fall. Leo brought the sun that brought the fruits and vegetables that grew in Virgo and were harvested in Libra. Scorpio brought the slaughter of the animals, and Sagittarius brought the hunt. Those who have worked hard may have plenty, but they must still conserve through Aquarius and Pisces,  where were have time to think about bigger things because we’re not working so hard. Aries comes around and thaws the ground, and the cycle of life begins again.

Modern Winter Solstice Celebrations

Many modern pagans, new age folks, and others celebrate Yuletide along with or instead of Christmas. It‘s actually hard to tell which holiday they’re celebrating because they so much of Christmas celebration is rooted in pagan tradition. Most of the things you may do around the holidays have a pagan origin.

Do you have a tree? Do you exchange presents? Do you drink spiced hot drinks? Have you ever gone caroling? Do you decorate your house with evergreens, like fir and holly? How about mistletoe? Perhaps you have a Christmas stocking?

Winter solstice is a celebration of spending time together because the nights are long and cold. There’s no better way to spend long, cold nights than with each other. That’s perhaps the thing everyone can agree on: out of things, we wait for the coming of the light again together, and we celebrate being together.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

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