Happy First Day of Winter Eve
Posted on: 2011-12-21 14:14:13
The Unconquerable Sun dies and is reborn. Nights stretch long and the light is weak, tomorrow is the First Day of Winter! For three days the sun stands still and the dark is powerful and nights are long; then a slow crawl north to the point of the Equinox begins.
For the members of any culture, it can be easy to take for granted their customs and traditions of today, as if they are now as they have always been and will always remain; but because cultures evolve over the years, this is usually not so. Drawing back the curtains of time can bring to light the formation of a tradition's character -- revealing its origins and tracing its journey through time.
This is the case with celebrations at the time of the Mid-Winter Solstice. Throughout the world and throughout the ages, people have had celebrations at the time of the year's longest night. The power of this time of longest dark miraculously transforming into increasing light has spawned many beliefs and mythologies. All of the celebrations of this time incorporate in some way the idea of and the experience of light. The word "light" is often included in popular name of the holiday, such as the Jewish holiday of "Hanukkah, a Festival of Lights," and the Christian holiday of "Christmas, the Season of Light."
The peoples of England and Scandinavia gave the name Yuletide to their Mid-Winter Solstice Festival. The word "Yule" means "wheel" or "whole," and "tide" means "time." Yuletide is "the Time of Wholeness," "the Time of Holiness," or "Holytime." To their Mid-Winter Solstice Festival, the people of Germany gave the name "Weihnachten," which means "the Holy Nights."
Holytime happens every year when the Great Wheel of the Seasons comes around full circle, finding rest in the wholeness of its source: the Mid-Winter Solstice, the deepest dark of the longest Winter night. This is the time of deepest inner rest in the world of nature and also in the hearts of people. For thousands of years, quiet, peace, and loving kindness have reigned during Holytime. At last year's Mid-Winter Solstice was born the year just ending. Now, a year later, the old year comes to its rest. With a sigh of fulfillment, the old year lies down, dissolves into Solstice silence, and for a magical moment, time stands still. . .