The Winter Solstice. The Star Frost Moon. The Celebration of Yule. All herald the beginning of Winter. Although the official timing of the solstice does not occur until December 22nd this year, it is generally accepted and observed on December 21st- the first day of the winter season. On the solstice in the northern hemisphere, it is when the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon. It is the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight, which also makes for the longest night of the year. For the days before the solstice and the days just after, there is no perceivable difference in the days being shorter or days being longer.
The origin of the word solstice comes from Latin solstitium, from ‘sol’ (sun) and -‘stitium’ (a stoppage). Winter Solstice= ‘sun stand still in winter’. Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.
The solstice also marks the beginning of the Celebration of Yule. Although many people believe Yule and Christmas to be the same, this ancient holiday lasted a longer period of time than what is generally celebrated today. ‘Yule’ is when the Sun God is born. It starts on the stolstice and continues until twelve days after Christmas-or Twelfth Night. At the end of the 12th night, Christians celebrate the ‘Epiphany ‘- in which Jesus Christ is revealed to the world as the ‘Son of God’. Originally, Yule incorporated many different holidays such as this during the season. The 12th day is also known as Three Kings Day, after the Maji, who supposedly brought the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ comes from this tradition.
Throughout history, people have acknowledged this moon and solstice as the beginning of coming into the light from darkness. It is a time to indulge in memories of the past, give appreciation to gifts of the present, and make plans and resolution for the future.
The end of the twelfth night also signals the beginning of Carnaval– which lasts until Mardi Gras .
‘Yule Moon’- December 23, 2011