Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. In fact, if you live above the Arctic Circle, there will be an entire twenty four hour period of endless night! For some spiritual beliefs, today marks the beginning of the Yule, and in some ancient traditions the solstice represents the birth of the sun from the Moon goddess. Perhaps many of these traditions were absorbed by later Christian groups that invaded Northern Europe. For many, this is day is a wonderful day to turn your attention inward, take stock of things, let go of what no longer serves you and prepare for the transformation to the new year. If you are reading from the northern hemisphere, don’t worry, beginning tomorrow there will be a few more moments of sunlight everyday for about six months.
The twenty-first of December 2018goats
The steady march towards winter can feel…a bit dark. Today marks the official first day of winter with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Where I am writing, there will be less than eight hours of sunshine today. Many cultures choose to celebrate the shortest day of the year, perhaps because starting tomorrow the days will gradually get longer and longer as the Earth’s axis rotates towards, instead of away from, the sun. In ancient times, this time of year was celebrated for the Egyptian god Osiris, Apollo and Sol Invictus, all deities with links to the sun. The Yule Log may be a delicious chocolate cake now, but thousands of years ago it was a part of the Juul festival of northern Europe and Scandinavia, where families would cut down a large tree and light it on fire for twelve days to bring good harvest and fertility for the new year in part of worship to the god Odin. In fact, some retellings of Norse mythology even have Odin delivering gifts and sweets to children during this time, centuries before Santa Claus and his reindeer. At any rate, if you are anything like me, and perhaps goats, you long for the sunshine. In that case, today is a day of hope as every day for the next six months, there will be a smidgen more sunshine to enjoy.