Posted on by Candice Ruck

Every year, in the Northern Hemisphere, on December 21st or 22nd, the sun "stands still" on the Winter solstice. From the time of the Summer Solstice, the Sun sets earlier and earlier, leading to gradually shorter days. On the day of the Winter Solstice, daylight hours are the shortest while the hours of darkness are the longest. 

This year Winter Solstice will begin in the early morning hours of December 21st, the Sun will fall to its lowest point in the northern sky. It will seemingly stay "stuck" at this point for three days and begin its progression anew in the early morning hours of December 25th. The word solstice is Latin in origin, meaning sun, sol, and standstill, sistere From this astrological perception, the lore of the Sun's death and its rebirth was born. 

It's worth noting on December 24th, the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, aligns with the brightest stars in Orion's belt known as the Three Kings. On December 25th, they point towards where the Sun will rise on earth that day. Perhaps that sounds familiar. The three kings follow the brightest star in the sky to the birth of the Sun. Yes, the story of Jesus' birth has origins in the astrological formations of the Winter Solstice. 

Pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice are some of the oldest celebrations in the world, predating Christmas. The festivity, customs, and traditions associated with Christmas are mostly linked to Pagan cultures and their Solstice celebrations. 

Winter Solstice celebration originally arose from Sun worshipping practices and rituals. For almost 10,000 years, sun worship has been practiced. Because the Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year, ancients believed it was a very fitting day to welcome back the Sun. Frigid nights and dwindling harvest must have undoubtedly served as some sort of inspiration!

The Norsemen of Northern Europe viewed the Sun as an ever-turning wheel that changed from one season to the next. The word for wheel houl is where many believe the word Yule came from. To welcome back the Sun, Norsemen would light bonfires and drink honeyed ale. 

When Winter Solstice became closely tied to Yule, it was also a celebration of goddess Moon giving birth to the Sun god. Before the arrival of Christianity in Britain, Druids would give mistletoe cut from an oak tree as a blessing. Oak trees and mistletoe have long been a symbol of life and rebirth during the dark days of Winter Solstice. 

 

The lore of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King has held significance for Winter Solstice for centuries. According to the myth, the two rulers fight for domination as the Wheel of the Year turns to each Solstice. At Yule, the Oak King secures his reign until Midsummer, when they reengage in their eternal battle for supremacy on the Summer Solstice. At that time, the Holly King defeats the Oak King and reclaims his throne. Depending on the belief system or tradition, the dates are shifted to the Equinoxes, and the Oak King is supreme at Midsummer, and the Holly King rules winter. 

According to some Wiccan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King represent the Horned God's light and shadow aspects. Each facet of him battles for the Great Goddess's favor, then withdraws upon defeat until it is time to reclaim his sovereignty. Some Pagan belief systems view the Holly King as an archetype of transformation and rebirth, whereas the Oak King is aligned with the Sun, renewal, and hope. 

Other folklore and deities associated with the Winter Solstice involve gods and goddesses of the Sun and rebirth. Among them are

Cailleach Bheur is the Celtic Queen of Winter. She is the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess and rules between Samhain and Beltane. 

Demeter, mother of Persephone, the bringer of light, is also known as the Dark Mother of winter. As depicted in the Greek myth when her daughter was abducted by Hades, her profound grief caused the earth to grow frigid and wither for six months of winter. 

Horus was a sun god of ancient Egypt. It was him who rose and set every day as the Sun. He is often associated with Ra, god of the Sun, sky, and kings.

Mithras was a Roman god of the Sun, born at the time of Winter Solstice, who was resurrected around the time of Spring Equinox and worship by mysterious Roman sects. 

No matter how you choose to celebrate, which gods you will invoke to welcome back the Sun, or rituals you will incorporate, the Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun. The Sun's rebirth is symbolic of the renewal and transformation that can come from reflecting on our own inner stillness, symbolized by sheets of fallen snow. 

 

Every year, in the Northern Hemisphere, on December 21st or 22nd, the sun "stands still" on the Winter solstice. From the time of the Summer Solstice, the Sun sets earlier and earlier, leading to gradually shorter days. On the day of the Winter Solstice, daylight hours are the shortest while the hours of darkness are the longest. 

This year Winter Solstice will begin in the early morning hours of December 21st, the Sun will fall to its lowest point in the northern sky. It will seemingly stay "stuck" at this point for three days and begin its progression anew in the early morning hours of December 25th. The word solstice is Latin in origin, meaning sun, sol, and standstill, sistere From this astrological perception, the lore of the Sun's death and its rebirth was born. 

It's worth noting on December 24th, the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, aligns with the brightest stars in Orion's belt known as the Three Kings. On December 25th, they point towards where the Sun will rise on earth that day. Perhaps that sounds familiar. The three kings follow the brightest star in the sky to the birth of the Sun. Yes, the story of Jesus' birth has origins in the astrological formations of the Winter Solstice. 

Pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice are some of the oldest celebrations in the world, predating Christmas. The festivity, customs, and traditions associated with Christmas are mostly linked to Pagan cultures and their Solstice celebrations. 

Winter Solstice celebration originally arose from Sun worshipping practices and rituals. For almost 10,000 years, sun worship has been practiced. Because the Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year, ancients believed it was a very fitting day to welcome back the Sun. Frigid nights and dwindling harvest must have undoubtedly served as some sort of inspiration!

The Norsemen of Northern Europe viewed the Sun as an ever-turning wheel that changed from one season to the next. The word for wheel houl is where many believe the word Yule came from. To welcome back the Sun, Norsemen would light bonfires and drink honeyed ale. 

When Winter Solstice became closely tied to Yule, it was also a celebration of goddess Moon giving birth to the Sun god. Before the arrival of Christianity in Britain, Druids would give mistletoe cut from an oak tree as a blessing. Oak trees and mistletoe have long been a symbol of life and rebirth during the dark days of Winter Solstice. 

 

The lore of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King has held significance for Winter Solstice for centuries. According to the myth, the two rulers fight for domination as the Wheel of the Year turns to each Solstice. At Yule, the Oak King secures his reign until Midsummer, when they reengage in their eternal battle for supremacy on the Summer Solstice. At that time, the Holly King defeats the Oak King and reclaims his throne. Depending on the belief system or tradition, the dates are shifted to the Equinoxes, and the Oak King is supreme at Midsummer, and the Holly King rules winter. 

According to some Wiccan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King represent the Horned God's light and shadow aspects. Each facet of him battles for the Great Goddess's favor, then withdraws upon defeat until it is time to reclaim his sovereignty. Some Pagan belief systems view the Holly King as an archetype of transformation and rebirth, whereas the Oak King is aligned with the Sun, renewal, and hope. 

Other folklore and deities associated with the Winter Solstice involve gods and goddesses of the Sun and rebirth. Among them are

Cailleach Bheur is the Celtic Queen of Winter. She is the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess and rules between Samhain and Beltane. 

Demeter, mother of Persephone, the bringer of light, is also known as the Dark Mother of winter. As depicted in the Greek myth when her daughter was abducted by Hades, her profound grief caused the earth to grow frigid and wither for six months of winter. 

Horus was a sun god of ancient Egypt. It was him who rose and set every day as the Sun. He is often associated with Ra, god of the Sun, sky, and kings.

Mithras was a Roman god of the Sun, born at the time of Winter Solstice, who was resurrected around the time of Spring Equinox and worship by mysterious Roman sects. 

No matter how you choose to celebrate, which gods you will invoke to welcome back the Sun, or rituals you will incorporate, the Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun. The Sun's rebirth is symbolic of the renewal and transformation that can come from reflecting on our own inner stillness, symbolized by sheets of fallen snow.