Festival of Light and Fire
The winter solstice, the moment we will be the furthest away from the sun will occur Monday, December 21st at 7:30 AM CST in the northern hemisphere. Practically this is the longest night of the year, and the shortest, darkest day. The sun will rise only to its lowest elevation during this shortest day. The winter solstice is also known as midwinter.
Depending on the area of the world you live in the winter solstice is either seen as the beginning of winter, or the halfway mark of winter. After this moment the sun begins to return to us. Slowly but surely, the night shortens, the days get longer and warmth, light and life begin to return to us. No matter what part of the word you live in, the celebrations and festivities observed around the solstice celebrate family, friends, hope, feasting, and singing. Some of these traditions originated with the Greek celebration of Kronia, which later was taken over by the Romans as Saturnalia, and which further evolved into traditions observed today for Christmas. Across many cultures fire and evergreen plants are used as a symbolic significance of hope and renewal. Since man began to observe the heavens the winter solstice has been thought of as the moment the sun dies and is reborn. What better way to celebrate the return of the sun than with festivals of fire and light? ;
Just as many ancient sites were built to have a specific solar effect during the equinoxes, other sites were built to display the significance of the solstices. Sites around the world that pay homage to the winter solstice include:
Stonehenge, England. Newgrange, Ireland. Maeshowe, Scotland. Goseck circle, Germany. Tulum, Mexico. Stone lines at Cerro del Gentil pyramid, Peru.