Christmas is fast approaching – but it’s not the only winter celebration on the calendar.
Different cultures celebrated the winter A reversal from the dawn of human history.
The solstice – which occurs on December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere – is the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.
Also known as hibernal inversion, it occurs when the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun.
So when the nights draw in, where in Europe Should we celebrate this ancient tradition?
Why do different cultures celebrate the winter solstice?
The word “Solstitium” comes from the Latin word sōlstitium and translates to “sun standing still”.
Many ancient civilizations depended economically on tracking the progression of the seasons. the winter from the direction of the sun marked the beginning of difficulty the winter period – but also the rebirth of the sun, when the days begin to gradually lengthen in the new year.
From Saturnalia – the ancient Roman festival of Saturn – Until the holiday, the darkest time of the year was always a season of feasting and celebration.
But some ancient cultures specifically marked the solstice—and their monuments remain.
So where should you spend the day?
3. Newgrange, Ireland
Newgrange is one of the holiest sites in Ireland. The huge kidney-shaped mound – spread over one acre – is one of the oldest astronomically oriented structures in the world.
The structure was built as a Neolithic burial mound and cult site around 3,200 BC, making it five thousand years old. archaeologists It is estimated that it would have taken a workforce of 300 people about 20 years to build.
Every year at the end of the winter solstice, a shaft of sunlight rises deep into the tomb, illuminating the room. The dramatic event lasted around 17 minutes at dawn on the solstice day.
As thousands of years passed, the hills entered Irish mythology as the Sada or Fairy Hills. Newgrange is said to be the home of Aengus, the god of love.
how to visit
You will have to be very lucky to secure access to Newgrange on the morning of the solstice.
Admission to the office on the solstice days is determined by a lottery held at the end of September each year. About 30,000 candidates compete for 50 tickets.
But if you miss it, you’re still invited to gather outside Tel Newgrange to mark the occasion
2. Stonehenge, UK
Stonehenge is one of them UK The most amazing monuments.
The origin and purpose of the monumental ring of massive stones – each about four meters high – has puzzled awe-stricken visitors for centuries. Medieval people speculated that it was built by giants, or the wizard Merlin. Today’s conspiracy theorists describe the site as an alien landing pad – a hotly contested theory in some corners of the web.
In reality, it was likely a site of worship, pilgrimage and healing. Some of the people buried there reached as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
The structure may also have functioned as a giant solar calendar. The site is aligned to the sunrise of the summer solstice and the sunset of the winter from the direction of the sun Archaeological evidence reveals that pigs were slaughtered at Stonehenge in December and January, indicating a reversal festivals.
Every year visitors from around the world still gather to mark the winter solstice and watch the sunrise over the stones. The monument is aimed at sunset, but visitors gather the morning after to celebrate.
how to visit
The sun will rise at 8:04 am on December 22nd. The entrance is free of charge. Entrance to the monument will be from approximately 7:45am (or when it is light enough to enter safely) until 10:00am. Parking is extremely limited, officials add.
1. Saint Lucia Day, parts of Scandinavia
B SwedenNorway, and SwedishSpeaking in the regions of Finland, solstice celebrations have merged with the newer tradition of Saint Lucia Days.
This festival of lights is held on December 13 – the solstice according to the old Julian calendar – in honor of Saint Lucia, a young Sicilian Christian who was killed by the Romans in 304 AD.
Today, this event marks the beginning of the Christmas season, and the churches are wide open Scandinavia filled with processions of young women in white robes with candles on their heads.
The festival also incorporates pagan winter solstice celebrations, and traditionally gingers, saffron-flavored buns and glug are served.