Midwinter's Night -- The Sun Returns
Roman Emperor Aurillian declared December 25 as the official "solstice" and the beginning of Saturnalia throughout the empire. The 12 days of Roman Saturnalia became the 12 days of Christmas when the Christian conference of Constantinople adopted a Christian overlay of pagan holidays. The return of the sun God became the birth of the son of God. But old tradition dies hard, and everywhere you go people still light their lights on the darkest night, build a yule fire, burn a yule log, light a candle, light 8 candles in a row, or decorate their homes with 10,000 little computer controlled lights against the dark. People still decorate with holly and evergreen boughs, the old symbols of life continuing even in the dark of winter. It is said that holly bears its fruit in the darkest time of the year in anticipation and sure knowledge that spring will soon return.
The giving of gifts at Yule is also old beyond history, perhaps originating in a time when tribal hunters found game scarce and hunting difficult in midwinter, but shared their kill with the whole tribe so that all might survive until spring. Yule is a time of feasting and joy, merriment and celebrating in all lands and all religions.
This year we have also had a lunar eclipse at Midwinter. The last eclipse on Midwinter solstice was in the 1600s. Some of us stayed up most of the night and enjoyed the dark as even the light from the moon went dark on the darkest night.
Today marks the rebirth of the Sun God celebrated in ancient traditions. We have survived the darkest part of darkness once again. There will still be cold weather for a while, but each day the sun shines a little longer, a little stronger. The Sun, the light, and the warm comes again.
For each of my blessed readers, you of every faith and of no faith, may your little lights grow into brilliance in the coming months. May you have a joyous and festive midwinter feast, however you choose to celebrate.