Skip to main content

Light A Candle Against The Dark

YULE PEACE 
by Selena Fox
Make Peace on Earth, Make Peace Within
At the Suns Rebirth & 'Round the Wheel Again.


This evening I will light a candle against the dark and I will consider the blessings of the light that will soon follow.
Perhaps as a bit of an antidote to the rampant commercialism that has become our holiday season, I spent a bit of time this morning reading about the history of Winter Solstice celebrations. This year "holiday" television commercials began with Halloween. Perhaps, before long, advertising will begin on the 4th Of July! As the "season" for gift-giving becomes longer and longer I seem to become less and less excited. Is that reverse psychology at work or is just age? 
I have long considered that exchanging gifts at New Years (as they did in centuries past) might be a small way to protest against what I personally feel has become a travesty of the significance of this season of the spirit. Thus far, however, I seem to bend to our modern tradition, although I am usually such a slug about getting holiday gifts sent in a timely manner (even if they are right in front of me) that perhaps I have already edged towards that goal in a small way! 
I found this excellent article on the International Business Times website (of all places!). It is one of the best synopsis' of Winter Solstice lore and traditions that I found. The link will take you to the full article along with links (if they don't all work from here).
"......The winter solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. The Earth’s axis tilts the furthest away from the sun at 23-and-a-half degrees, giving all locations north of the equator less than 12 hours of daylight. This moment has been marked by mankind for centuries. 
In ancient Rome, the weeklong feast of Saturnalia honored the sun god Saturn. Celts believed the sunstood still for 12 days, making it necessary to light a log fire to conquer the darkness. During the Iron Age, the Celts and other ancient Europeans welcomed the winter solstice by feasting, merrymaking and sacrificing animals. Today modern pagans celebrate the holiday by lighting candles, throwing bonfires, hosting feasts and decorating their homes.
Early Celebrations
Celebrating the rebirth of the sun can be seen in other cultures throughout history. While these typically took place during the coldest, darkest days of the year, winter solstice traditions were celebrations that gave people hope sunny days lay ahead.
Egyptians celebrated the return of Ra, god of the sun, on a daily basis. Ancient Greeks held a similar festival called Lenaea. The Roman Empire held Saturnalia celebrations. Scandinavia's Norsemen called the holiday “Yule.”  Families would light Yule logs where they would eat until the log burned out – which could take up to 12 days. Each spark was believed to represent a new pig or calf that would be born in the new year.
Germanic peoples would celebrate the winter festival by honoring the pagan god Odin. Many believed he would fly through the night sky (on a magical flying horse) and determine who would be blessed or cursed in the coming year. Many decided to stay indoors, fearing Odin’s wrath.
Relation to Christmas
Originally the Christian calendar focused on Easter. It was only in the fourth century that the church decided Jesus Christ’s birthday should be celebrated. Since the Bible did not point to an exact date when Christ was born, Pope Julius I chose Dec. 25. It’s commonly believed that the church chose the date in an effort to replace the Roman Saturnalia with the Christian holiday.
"As the Christmas celebration moved west," Harry Yeide, a professor of religion at George Washington University told National Geographic. "The date that had traditionally been used to celebrate the winter solstice became sort of available for conversion to the observance of Christmas. In the Western church, the December date became the date for Christmas."
Besides the date, Christian leaders found ways to relate the pagan holiday to the Christian one.
"This gave rise to an interesting play on words," Yeide said. "In several languages, not just in English, people have traditionally compared the rebirth of the sun with the birth of the son of God."
Christmas traditions including dinner feasts, gift-giving, and decorative wreaths can be traced back to winter solstice rituals. For instance, for the Celtic druids, mistletoe was a sacred plant  called “All Heal.” Priests would cut the plant from the tree, hold a feast and sacrifice animals underneath it. Mistletoe was believed to cure illnesses, serve as an anecdote for poisons, ensure fertility and protect against witchcraft. Some people would hang it from their doorways or rooms to offer goodwill to visitors.
Ancient Romans would decorate their homes with holly during winter solstice. Holly wreaths were given as gifts and used as decoration in public areas and in homes to honor the sun god Saturn. Ancient Celts would have similar traditions. Many would plant holly in their homes as a form of protection since the plants was believed to hold magical powers for its ability to survive the winter months.
Modern Festivities
For Wiccans and Druids, Yule is one of the eight solar holidays celebrated each year. Wiccans see Yule as a time to spend with friends and family, exchange gifts and honor the sun. Homes are decorated with red, green and white decorations – colors that hark back to Druidic traditions.
Some Wiccans welcome the new solar year with light. Rituals can include meditating in darkness with lit candles, singing pagan carols and lighting Yule logs (either in indoor fireplaces or outdoor bonfires)....."


Comments

  1. my candle is lit for tonight, especially since we have a family friend starting his drive from Arizona to Montana to join us for the holidays. I am wishing him a safe trip through the dark.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I always look forward to the Winter Solstice. My ancient Norse and Celtic genes kick in and I am spreading candles and twinkle lights where ever I can. I also light them every night until Valentine's Day or President's Day, depending on the weather. I crave light in the winter, especially on dark and gloomy days. I really like the idea of New Year's gift giving. Maybe something to start the New Year off with a new interest like a journal, or supplies for a creative outlet someone has been thinking of trying. A way to start off the New Year with excitement instead of exhaustion. I hope your holiday, which ever you choose to celebrate is filled with joy and excitement for the New Year. xo

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts! Thank you for taking the time to stop by!

Popular posts from this blog

Circular Knitting Needle Comparison

When I use something a lot I have to admit that I try to find the brand that works best for me. I never thought that I would ever be a scissor snob until I found Dovo brand scissors and, of course I love my trusty Fiskars too. I became a scissor snob thank to Dovo. 
Now I seem to be searching for the perfect knitting needles - the perfect one for me at least. I have been enjoying the 'chase' and I think I am close to knowing exactly what my preference is, and want, in a knitting needles. 
I only use circular knitting needles. When I first taught myself to knit myself  that's what I used and my preference has not changed. I began knitting with Addi Turbo needles. That is the brand that my LYS sold and I have always loved how slick and fast they are. I have sets of Addi clicks interchangeables in both lace and regular.  Over time, I have discovered what I want in a knitting needle: metal, the pointiest tip possible, a fast knitting, slick, metal needle and a very flexible c…

Fabric Stiffeners and Hardeners For All Occasions Plus A Recipe For Home Made Starch Alternative

I have had to become better acquainted with various ways to harden, stiffen or prevent fraying in cloth lately. It has been an enlightening journey, and I thought that I would pass it along the lessons that I have learned about a variety of excellent products that suit any need to 'tame' fabric for a variety of reasons. 
Fray Check. Who among us has not used this ubiquitous little potion over the years? It works like a charm to 'glue' up those raw edges on some of the most beautiful fabrics I use; ensuring that I can sew the fabric without fear of endless unraveling. This product has remained a favorite since I first discovered it many years ago. The only change that I think Prym/Dritz has made to it over the years is a finer application tip.
I have re-discovered my admiration for this product as I was making a holiday gift from some beautiful cotton that was especially prone to fraying! I have also recently learned that Fray Check can be removed with rubbing alcohol.…

Thread Matters and Easter Joy

My enchantmnt with embroidery continues unabated. Who knew?! I recently finished this 14" square; my interpretation of a pattern from Kathy Schmitz' book "Stitches From The Garden". She has another new book coming out soon called "Stitches For The Yuletide". I like her books because the designs can so easily be made your own. I have been working on some original designs (my own) lately and am looking forward to trying one of them soon. For quite a few years now I have been a fan of Wonderfil threads. My delight began innocently enough when I tried their luscious cotton thread called Konfetti. It's a 50 wt and is comparable to Superior Threads Masterpiece 50 wt cotton and Aurifil 50wt cotton, Konfetti has a lustrous, silky feel. For the record, I am also a fan of Masterpiece and Aurifil threads, but Wonderfil has developed some really unique thread lines and I cannot help jumping on their fan-wagon. I think that they have a unique line up of threads w…