Last year and year before that, I have presented similar post and it has had quite a significant number of visitors. I feel it would be good to remind ourselves about the meaning of celebration of the time of Solstice.
The time around the winter solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years, and different religions have developed different festivals around this time.
Budhists celebrate Bodhi Day - The Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that Shakyamuni experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi) on December 8.
Hanukkah - the Festival of Lights, observed in Judaism for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
In Ancient Roman Religion was a Festival Saturnalia (basically a festival of Solstice) held in honor of deity Saturn on the 17th of December and later expanded with festivities through to the 23rd of December.
About 5000 years ago, Stone Age people have build a large circular mound, 76 m across and 12 m high at Newgrange, Ireland. Within a mound, there is an interior chamber and 19 m long stone passageway with entrance on the southeastern side. The entrance and passageway are perfectly aligned with solar movements.
Once a year, in the morning on December 21 (or 22), on Winter Solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage and illuminates the inner chamber for about 17 minutes.
The Newgrange Mound is older then Stonehedge and Pyramids in Ghiza, and is one of the oldest documented attempt to mark winter solstice.
Similar structure was build on Gavrinis island that overlooks the Vannes river in France. Another passage mound was build at Kercado in Carnac woods in France. It was build in 4700 BC and is perfectly aligned to winters solstice.
Return of Yang, a festival celebrated by Daoists on December 21.
Yalda -The turning point, Winter Solstice, was celebrated early in the history of the Germanic peoples on December 21. The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people celebrated twelve-day "midwinter" Winter solstice holiday called Yule (Jul, Julblot). Many modern Christian traditions, such as Christmas tree, Christmas wreath, Yule log and others are direct descendants of Yule customs.
In Ancient Egypt religion, God-Man Saviour Osiris death and rebirth was celebrated on Dec 21.
In Ancient Greek religion, The Festival Lenaea, the death and rebirth of harvest God Dionysos, was celebrated on Dec 21.
In Ancient Inca religion, the Festival If Inti Raymi, the festival of Sun where the God of Sun, Wiracocha was celebrated on Dec 21.
Toltec people celebrate Winter Solstice till today. They merged their own zenith cosmology with the Mayan system and build the pyramid at Kukulcan. When one looks at the western face of pyramid during the winter solstice, the sun appears to climb up the edge of the staircase until it rests momentarily directly above the temple before beginning its descent down the other side.
Shabe Yaldā or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil, it is a birth of Mithra, who symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. It is celebrated on December 22.
In the Druidic tradition the name of this festival is "Alban Arthan", Welsh for "Light of Winter". On the 21st or 22nd of December - winter Solstice, Celts have celebrated the return of the Divine Child, the Mabon, the rebirth of the Sun.
Korocun was celebrated by pagan Slavic tribes on December 21, the longest night of the year. On this night, Hors (symbolizing old sun), becomes smaller as the days become shorter and dies on December 22, the winter solstice. It is said to be defeated by the dark and evil powers of the Black God. On December 23 Hors is resurrected and becomes the new sun, Koleda.
The Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival is celebrated in the China on December 21 (22). It is a time for family to get together and eat traditional meal of glutinous rise balls (in Southern China) or dumplings (Northern China).
Anglo Saxon Pagans were holding Modraniht - The Night of Mothers, on December 24.
In Vainakh mythology, there a Malkh festival dedicated to the Deela - Malkh - the birthday and the festival of the Sun on December 25.
Sol Invictus ("The Unconquered Sun") was originally a Syrian god who was later adopted as the chief god of the Roman Empire under Emperor Aurelian. His holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25.
Hindus in USA celebrate Pancha Ganapati, modern five-day Festival in honor of Lord Ganesha on December 21 - 25
Christians celebrate Blue Christmas - the day of Advent with longest night of the year on Dec 21 and later, the birth of Jesus on December 25.
Chahārshanbe Suri is a fire jumping festival, celebrated in Iran and Afghanistan. Ancient Persians Zoroastrian celebrated the last 5 days of the Iranian year (Spring Equinox) in their annual obligation feast of all souls.
In Islam, they do not celebrate solstice. The Muslim faith follows lunar and not solar phases. Consequently, the time of religious festivals in Islam changes every year with reference to other calendars (it shifts 11 days a year).
Mawlid al- Nabi in on Dec 12-13 2016 many Muslims have honored the birth of Muhammad in a ritual called the Mawlid. These popular practices are festive occasions, often with decorations all over cities, featuring tents in which sweets and candy are handed out. (taken with gratitude from article by Obin Safi).
Whatever you are celebrating, I wish you from my heart, a very peaceful Holidays season, filled with God's love and light.
With love and blessings
Peter Hudoba is a spiritual teacher in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Master Sha's Soul Healing Centre Vancouver