The Magical Significance of Winter Solstice



Despite the cold, for astronomers winter has not started yet. The day of the winter solstice is considered the first day of winter. On December 22, at 17:11 hour of Greenwich, will arrive in fact the time of the winter solstice, an event that marks the beginning of the winter season, at least in the astronomical sense. It is the day of the year when the noon sun rises less than the horizon, and will be the longest night of the year.

The solstice as well as the equinoxes is a phenomenon that happens twice each year, caused from the different angle of the axis of rotation of the Earth with respect to the ecliptic plane of the orbit on which our planet revolves around the the Sun. This difference reaches its highest point of elevation above the horizon at the summer solstice (June 21 or 22), and the minimum in the winter solstice (December 21 or 22).

In the northern hemisphere, the declination reaches a maximum positive value corresponding to the summer solstice, while reaching the maximum negative value in the winter solstice. However, the precise time at which this phenomena occurs gets delayed every year by about 6 hours. In the southern hemisphere the seasons are reversed, and with what we call the winter solstice begins the summer.

On one hand the Polar Vortex, which is not very consistent is therefore well prepared to send cold streams to affect the European countries that face the Mediterranean basin.

On these dates, then you have the longer days and the nights that conventionally marks the beginning of summer and winter or the times of year when the apparent path of the sun rises or falls relative to the horizon, which end with the autumn equinox and that of spring. After the winter solstice, the days gradually begin to grow.

Equinoxes and solstices are due Earth's tilt, which also determines the seasons and therefore the agricultural production cycles. Ever since man became sedentary, that is, becoming a farmer from a hunter, it was of paramount importance to understand how and at what pace alternated the seasonal cycles, as this depended on the success of the crop and its survival.

The year was roughly divided into four quarters, and over time the key dates of the equinoxes and solstices were identified, at which were celebrated festivals and rites and ceremonies were held. Christmas presumably derives from the cult of Mithras, which in turn seems identifiable with the Mazda or Zoroaster. The Romans celebrated on this date the Solis Invictus, or Rising Sun.

The meaning or interpretation of this event has varied in different cultures of the world, but most of them recognizes it as a period of renewal and rebirth, which involves festivals, fairs, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations. The interpretations that the diverse cultures give to the solstice are varied. Winter is a subjective term, so the beginning or the middle of a winter is not scientifically established. For Celt countries like Ireland, generically winter season begins on November 1, the day of Samhain. Winter ends and spring begins on Imbolc, which is around February.

Most East Asian cultures define the seasons in terms of solar energy with Dong Zhi as the winter solstice. Some midwinter festivals have been produced according to the lunar calendar and thus takes place on the night of Hoku.

The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year, even during the Neolithic period. Astronomical events controlled in antiquity, such as mating of animals, sowing of crops and measurement of reserves between winter crops show how different mythologies and cultural traditions have emerged. This is proven by physics that remains in the designs of the late Neolithic and Bronze Age, as the archaeological sites of Stonehenge in Britain and Newgrange in Ireland.

The main shafts of both monuments appear to have been carefully lined up on a line of sight pointing to the sunrise of the winter solstice (Newgrange) and the setting sun of the winter solstice (Stonehenge). Stonehenge is significant about the fact that the Great Trilithon was built from the center to the outside of the monument, good flat face turned toward the midwinter sunrise.

The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were to be deprived of many things during the winter, and they had to be prepared in the last nine months. The hunger was common in winter between January and April, also known as months of famine. In temperate climates, the mid-winter festival was the last celebration, before the beginning of winter.

Most of the animals were slaughtered for not having to feed them during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year for the supply of available fresh meat. Most wine and beer from the annual harvest was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.

In celebration of Christmas then converge elements of other religions of the Mediterranean basin, with cults of the earth, with its fertility, with work in the fields and with the empirical knowledge of the calendar. Many of these traditions have been communicated to the Hellenic religion, and are then merged in a process of syncretism, in that Christian-Catholic cult. In some Nordic countries the solstice is still celebrated on December 13, according to the Gregorian calendar.

The winter solstice was at the center of pagan festivals. This is not an isolated case, however, because the solstices represented an important moment in the calendar of many other ancient cultures. Since ancient times from Siberia to the British Isles, through Central Europe and the Mediterranean, there was a plethora of rituals and cosmologies that celebrated the wedding of the fatal long night with the shortest day.

Two main themes were interwoven and overlapped as the musical themes of a great symphony. One was the death of the old sun and the birth of the new Sun. A second theme perhaps less old and was born with the first agricultural civilization, was to celebrate the background of the germination of wheat.

The prehistoric people celebrated rituals to ensure the regeneration of the sun to sustain the force and to encourage, through the so-called sympathetic magic rebirth and revival of its triumphal march. The Celts have a ritual in which the women waited, cloaked in darkness, the arrival of the candle light carried by the men, and then celebrate together the light around the fire.

Even today, between Christmas and New Year, there is still a proliferation of bonfires that is lit almost in every street, attracting a large group of people who gather around them to celebrate together. The astronomical solstice is actually a moment for many of the ancient pagan festivals such as Yule, Hanukkah, Diwali, Mahalaya or Shraddh and Makar Sankranthi.

Yule, or Farlas, is both the feast of death, transformation and rebirth. Like all moments of transition, Yule is a period full of symbolic meanings and magic, dominated by myths and symbols from a distant past.

A solstice symbol is the Mistletoe, a plant sacred to the Druids. The collection of mistletoe occurred especially during Samhain. Mistletoe was considered a panacea for all ills. It is a parasitic plant that has its roots in another's strength, not touching the ground and was considered a divine emanation. The prehistoric people also called it the broom of lightning, as they thought it was born when a lightning bolt struck a tree. The Druids cut it respectfully using a golden sickle.

There are many symbols that testify that they overlap among them the custom of the mistletoe, sacred plant of the Winter Solstice, and a symbol of life. These symbols of the solstice are still found in the traditions of the New Year, when kissing under it is considered a propitiatory gesture of good luck.

That one of these symbols is the fir is not a coincidence, because the fir is in all of Central Europe a tree tied to the pre-Christian cults. In this case it represents the cosmic tree (the best known is undoubtedly Yggdrasil, a giant ash tree that belongs to proto-germanic mythology). In many parts of Europe, in the Middle Ages the fir trees were decorated with painted eggs and sweets.

The Germanic peoples used fir in their pagan rituals to celebrate the transition from autumn to winter. Later it was customary to burn it in the stove, in a particular rite, so that the fire propitiate the return of the sun. Fir was chosen because it is an evergreen tree and was also a phallic symbol of fertility and abundance, associated with the male gods of strength and vitality.

In Celtic culture the Spruce was the symbol of grandeur, beauty, strength and wisdom and in Scandinavian mythology emblem of fidelity and love. For its upright posture and evergreen leaves, it was considered the tree of life force, growth, immortality and the confidence that gave energy, healing and creativity. Because it produces every year large quantities of pine cones, not surprisingly, was considered a symbol of fertility. Instead, his sociable aspect is shown with a tendency to grow as a team.

In the various ancient cultures, the Spruce was considered the tree that favors cooperation with other forms of life, facilitates the physical and spiritual renewal, can be connected to both the land and the sky, gives serenity and modesty and stimulates intuition and the realization of the deepest aspirations.

The association between the white fir and the light is also found. It was considered the tree of light long before it came into many homes as a Christmas tree lit by candles. The Christmas tree was originally the Silver Fir, replaced by cheaper Spruce only later, and was originally adorned with candles, nuts and apples, the latter a symbol of fertility. Only later they were replaced by balls and other modern decorations.

This cycle of birth and death is found in many cultures. In some European customs, the fir tree is symbolically burned. In fact, in many cultures and religious traditions, the winter solstice was used to mark the beginning of the year.



Such was the force that took this particular time of the year that all the ancient people celebrated it. The Gallo-Celts named it Alban Arthan (rebirth of the sun god), the Germans called it yule, Scandinavians named it Jul (sun wheel); Finns named it July (snowstorm), the Lapps named it Juvla, the Russians named it Karatun (the shortest day).

In Scandinavia, The Feast of Juul was a pre-christian festival celebrating the winter solstice with the lighting of fires. The fires were intended to symbolize the life-giving properties of the heat and light of the sun. The word Juul is the origin of the word Yule. Linguists, however, suggest that Jól has been inherited by the Germanic languages from a pre-Indo-European linguistic substratum.

The pagans celebrated the solstice, Sol Invictus, and Christians saw some importance in the celebration of light and rebirth, that marked the beginning of a new year. Christmas was set to December 25 by Pope Julius I (337-352) to create an alternative celebration to popular pagan festivals.

Dongzhi festival of East Asia is routed in the philosophy of yin and yang. Saturnalia is an ancient Roman festival that was celebrated with a feast and gifts. The festival was marked with an abundance of candles, signifying the light. Yalda festival is celebrated on the eve of the first winter day on the persian calendar. According to Iranian mythology, Mithra, the angel of light and truth, was born at the end of this night after defeating the darkness.

Celebrations in the southern hemisphere

The Aymaras held each year in the pre-Inca citadel of Tiwanaku the Willka Kuti or return of the sun. Hundreds of people visit the temple early Kalasasaya in Tiahuanaco, to attend the commemoration coinciding with the winter solstice.

The Inti Raymi or Sun Festival is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the sun god Inti. It also marked the winter solstice and a new year in the Andes in the southern hemisphere. A ceremony carried out by the Inca priests was the bonding of the sun. In Machu Picchu there is still a large column of stone called Intihuatana, literally to tie the Sun. The ceremony to bind the sun to the stone was to prevent the sun from escaping. The Spanish destroyed all other intihuatana, virtually extinguishing the practice of linking the sun. But they could never find Machu Picchu. By 1572, the Catholic Church managed to suppress all parties and Inti ceremonies. Since 1944 a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi takes place in Sacsayhuaman, two kilometers from Cusco, attracting thousands of local visitors and tourists.

The Monte Alto culture can also have a similar tradition. Winter solstice occurs at a key point from ushnu of the Huaca de Chena, the intersection of the nearest horizon (Cerro Chena) and far (Cordillera de la Costa). Moreover, in this precise direction the summit of the highest peak culminate south of the Zapata. This detail could not be a coincidence, but an important topographical requirement, because of the known association of the high mountains With the cult of water in various cultures.

The Coricancha was the main temple of the Inca culture. At dawn of the equinox, the Sun crossed the door of the eastern compound and crosses the corridor. At dusk it does the reverse. The diagonal of the access corridor points to the North-South line. By using this simple method, and using clay and stones as building materials, Inca astronomers obtained observations of great precision.

We Tripantu is the celebration of the Mapuche new year. It conforms the longest night of the year and the moment when the sun recovers its strength and the earth begins to be reborn.

The celebration consists of watching over the family during the night, waiting for the sunrise. When the sun appears, it is welcomed and a ritual bath is practiced in a river.

The celebration of the Marauroa or Takurua, is considered by the Maori of New Zealand as half of the winter season. Maori believe that the sun has two wives Takarúa in winter and Hine Raumati in summer. From this it follows directly after the rise of Matariki (Pleiades), which marks the beginning of the austral New Year and is said to be when the sun comes back from his trip north with his winter wife Takurua and begins its journey back to his summer wife Hineraumati.

The Night of San Juan is a festival in old Europe that celebrates the arrival of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, which was brought to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese at the time of colonization. In most of South America this day is close to the winter solstice and European traditions are preserved, but are not associated with the arrival of summer. On the other hand, the feast of San Juan contains elements of the indigenous cultures like the Aymara and the Mapuche, that celebrates its new year in the same date. Also in Colombia it is celebrated especially in Huila and Tolima, but has lost its astronomical connotations and is limited to a cultural festival known as San Pedro and San Juan which is widely celebrated in all municipalities.

Celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere

In the late seventh century, in Japan, festivities were held to celebrate the re-emergence of Amaterasu or Amateras, the sun goddess of Japanese mythology, from seclusion in a cave. Deceived by the other gods with a strong celebration, she looks for glimpses and finds the image of herself in a mirror and is convinced by the other gods to return, whereupon the sunlight returns back to the universe. Aspects of this tradition has continued to this day in the New Year.

Beaivi is the sun goddess worshiped by the Saami, the people originally from Lapland. She travels with her daughter beaivi-Neia across the sky in a structure made of bones of reindeer, bringing back the green pastures for reindeer. In the winter solstice the worshipers sacrifice white deer and woods and wires placed the meat in the form of rings and tied with bright ribbons, also anoint their posts with butter, so beaivi can eat rich food and recover from your trip.

In the ancient traditions of the Kalash, people of the Indian subcontinent, during the winter solstice, a demigod reunites and offer prayers to Dezao, the supreme being. During this celebration, women and girls purify themselves by taking ritual baths. Men pour water over their heads as long as they hold the bread. Then the men and the children purify themselves with water and should not sit in the chairs until the night when the blood of the goat is sprinkled on their faces. After this purification, a great festival begins in honor of god indr, with songs, dances, bonfires, and the feast of goat meat and other delicacies.

The Deuorius Riuri annual divine was the great winter festival observed by the calendar of Coligny. Mid-winter lunisolar Coligney returned to solar alignment every two and a half years.

The last day of the Persian month Azar is the longest night of the year, when the forces of Ahriman are supposed to be at the peak of their strength. The next day, the first day of the month Dey , known as Khoram ruz or Khore Ruz (the day of the Sun) belongs to the god Ahura Mazda. Since the days are getting longer than the nights, this day marks the victory of the Sun over the darkness. The occasion was celebrated in ancient Persian Deygan Festival dedicated to Ahura Mazda and Mithra.

The Festival of the Winter Solstice is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the term of Dongzhi sun or around 21 December when the sun is weaker and light the shortest day, ie, the first day of Dongzhi solar.Los origins of this festival dates back to the yin and yang, philosophy, balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with more hours of natural light and, therefore, an increase of positive energy flowing.

The philosophical meaning of this is symbolized by the hexagram of the I Ching fu. Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for family reunion. One activity that occurs during these meetings is that of making and eating. In the south it is usually held with Tangyuan, or glutinous rice balls (with or without fillers), symbolizing meeting. While in the north, where it is much colder, the family meal for this day is Jiaozi.

Tradition says that eating Jiaozi in the day Dongzhi prevents the ears from falling by freezing. The tradition of food and activities varies from area to area, although the two main ones are mentioned. In Korea, similar glutinous rice balls, in a traditional porridge with sweet red bean. This oats is believed to have a special power and should be sprayed around the winter solstice houses to repel sinister spirits.

Goru is the winter solstice ceremony in Dogon in Mali. It is the last harvest ritual and celebrates the arrival of the sky god, Amma, via Nommo inside the ADUNO koro or the Ark of the World.

New Year's Eve celebration of Scotland is called Hogmanay. The first celebrations of Hogmanay were carried to Scotland by the invaders and Nordic occupants that celebrated a new solstitial year. In 1600, with the Scottish application of January 1 as New Year and the continued repression of the church in solstice celebrations, holiday traditions moved to December 31. The festival is still called Yule by the Scots of the Shetland Islands, who start the festival on December 18 and the tradition of celebrating the last (the ritual of persecution of a troll) on January 18.

Scotland's most widespread custom is the practice of the first step-beginning immediately after midnight of the New Year. It is about being that the first person (usually tall and dark-haired) who crosses the threshold of a friend or neighbor often involves symbolic delivery of gifts like salt, charcoal, muffins, whiskey and black bread (a fruit pudding) intended for different types of luck for the owner of the house. Food and drinks is given to guests.

Junkunno or Jonkanoo in Jamaica, is a big masquerade parade and street festival, which is believed to be of West African origin. Traditionally it is done through the streets towards the end of December and includes participants dressed in a variety of costumes fantasy, as Vaquero, the horse, the wild Indian, and the Devil.

The parades are accompanied by bands usually consisting of bagpipes, drums, and coconut graters used as scrapers, and Jonkanoo songs are sung. The same practice was common on the coast of North Carolina, where is called John Canoe, John Koonah or John Kooner. Juan Canoa resembles the Bears of the medieval tradition of Great Britain. Both John Canoe and ceremony bears have strong resemblance to the reversal of roles in social rituals that marked the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

Karachun, Korochun or Kracun was similar to that of Slav party Halloween as the day when the Black God and other evil spirits are more powerful. It was celebrated by the Slavs on the longest night of the year on the day of the winter solstice. On this night, Hors, symbolizing the old sun, becomes smaller and shorter in the northern hemisphere. Next day Hors resurrected and became the new sun, Koleda. Karachun was opposed to the Kupala festival, which was held the day of the summer solstice.

In honor of Hors, the Slavs danced a ritual dance in chain called the Horo. In Russia and Ukraine it is known as khorovod. Modern scholars tend to associate this event with ancestor worship. In those days the Western Slavs set fires in cemeteries to keep warm their loved ones and organize dinners in honor of the dead so that they would not suffer from hunger. They were also left logs at crossroads. A recently discovered manuscript in Novgorod indicates the Slavic origin as more likely.

On December 23 Hors is resurrected and becomes the new sun, Koleda. On this day, Western Slavs make bonfires with wood, burning logs at the local level in cemeteries to keep their loved ones who have gone hot, organizing meals in honor of the dead so that they do not suffer from hunger at this crossroads because But the dead will resurrect and kill them.

In ancient Slavonic cultures, the festival Kaleda began in the Winter Solstice and lasted for ten days. In Russia, this festival was later applied to the eve of Christmas , but most practices were lost after the Soviet Revolution . Each family went to a campfire in their home and invited their home gods to participate in the festivities. Children dress up in the evenings and nights begin Koledari , visiting homes, singing wishes of good luck, like Shchedryk , the hosts. As a reward, they are given a few gifts in a tradition called Kolyadovanie , like the ancient tradition wassailing or mummers.

In the civilizations of the Aegean Sea, the exclusively female midwinter ritual, Lenaea or Lenaia was the Festival of the Wild Woman. In the forest, a man or bull representing the god Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten by Maenads . Later in the ritual a baby is offered, which represents the rebirth of Dionysus. Lenaion, the first month of the Delian calendar, derives its name from the name of the festival. In classical times, human sacrifice had been replaced by that of a goat, and the role of women changed to that of mourning funerals and observers of the birth certificate.

Milagros del Vino was performed by the priests, which sealed the water or juice in a room at night and the morning of the next day have become wine. The miracle was said to have been carried out by Dionysus and Leneas. By the V century BC. C. ritual has become a festival of theater competitions Gamelion, often celebrated in Athens in Lenaion Theatre. The Brumalia festival, an ancient solstice festival in honor of Bacchus, usually for a month and ends on December 25 was influenced by Lenaia. The festival included drink and joy. The name is derived from the Latin word mist, although almost always the party took place at night.

The Night of Lucia or night Lussi takes place on December 13 in what was supposed to be the longest night of the year. The party was later it appropriated by the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century as the Day of St. Lucia. it was believed in the folklore of Sweden that if people, particularly children, did not carry out its tasks, the devil woman, the Lussi, or dead Lucia Dunkle would come to punish them.

Makara Sankranti is the only Hindu festival which is based on the celestial calendar rather than the lunar calendar. India in vedic times walked away from the solar calendar causing the festival to now occur in mid-January due to precession of the equinoxes. In Tamil Nadu, is celebrated as the festival of Pongal. The day before Pongal, the last day of the previous year, is celebrated Bhogi.

In Assam it is called Magh Bihu, in Punjab as Lohri, in Bengal and Maharashtra is called Makara Sankranti and is celebrated by exchanging sesame candy balls, and asking others to be as sweet as the candy balls for next year. It is celebrated with great pomp in Andhra Pradesh , where the festival is celebrated for three days and more than a cultural festival, is an auspicious day as in other parts of India. In some parts of India, the festival is celebrated taking baths in the Ganges or another river water and make offerings to the sun god.

In many states, mainly in Gujarat, families fly kites from their roofs all day and night. It is a way to celebrate and welcome the longest day. Symbolically, thousands of kites with different colors fly in the sky giving us a feeling that Earth celebrates in the brightest and warmest sky. It is also very common to give grass to feed the cows on this day.

In Assam, on the eve of Bihu Uruka, families build house-like structures called separate bhelaghar that are built by the community as a whole. Different types of cords are tied around fruit trees. Traditionally, the fuel is stolen from the final ceremony, when the bhelaghar is burned. Their remains are placed in the fruit trees. Offered pujas special are offered as a thank you for the good harvest. Since the festival is held in the middle of winter, the food prepared for this festival is to keep the body warm and give high energy. From Laddu to jagger they are made for the festival of the specialty.

Modranicht, was a Germanic festival. It was believed that the dreams on this night predicted events of the following year. By 730, Beda thought it might have been observed by the Anglo-Saxons on the eve of the winter solstice. After the revival of Christmas in Britain is recognized by many as one of the Twelve Days of Christmas

Meán Geimhridh or Grianstad or Gheimhridh is a name sometimes used for hypothetical midwinter rituals or celebrations of the Proto-Celtic tribes, late and druids. In Irish calendars, all solstices and equinoxes occur around the midpoint in each season. The passage and chamber of Newgrange, a tomb in Ireland, are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof of the tomb above the entrance and penetrates the passage of the chamber. The dramatic case lasting 17 minutes in the early hours of 19 with 23 December. The point of roughness is the term for the winter solstice in Wales which in ancient Welsh mythology , was when Rhiannon gave birth to the sacred son, Pryderi.

The Day Mummer or Dark Day as it is sometimes known, is an ancient celebration of Cornish midwinter which takes place every year between December 26 and New Year's Day in Padstow, Cornwall. It was originally part of the heathen heritage of mid-winter celebrations which is regularly celebrated throughout Cornwall, where people dance by blackening their faces wearing masks.

For an unknown period, Lá an Dreoilín or Wren Day has been celebrated in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Wales on 26 December. Throngs of people, called wrenboys, take to the roads in various parts of Ireland, wearing multicolored clothing, masks or straw suits and accompanied by musicians supposedly in memory of the festival celebrated by the Druids. Previously, practice involved the murder of a wren, and singing at the same time carry the bird from house to house, stopping for food and joy.

In England, during the eighteenth century , there was a resurgence of interest in the Druids. Today, among neo druids, Alban Arthan the winter solstice is celebrated with a ritual feast, and gifts to the needy.

The first Germans of VI - XI centuries believed that Hertha (Bertha or Perchta) was the goddess of light, domesticity and home. They baked yeast cakes. During the winter solstice, the houses were covered with evergreen spruce branches to welcome him. When the family and the servants gathered for dinner, they made an altar with flat stones, where they lit a fire with spruce branches. They said that Hertha descended through the smoke and guided the connoisseurs of the traditions to guess the future of those attending the party.

Many cities have dramatized the practices of the gods as characters walking the streets. These traditions have continued in rural areas of the Alps, and various similar traditions, such as day of Wren, survived in the Celtic nations until recently.

In the twelfth century, the Slavs of eastern Russia, worshiped the mother goddess of winter, Rozhanitsa, offering sacrifices without blood like honey, bread and cheese. Brightly colored embroidery depicting the winter goddess was made in honor of the Rozhanitsa Feast in late December. Some Russian women continued to observe these traditions in the 20th century by making bright white biscuits with a woman figure.

Derived from a pre-Zoroastrian festival Shab-e Chelleh held on the eve of the first day of winter in the Persian calendar , which always falls on the solstice. Yalda is the most important festival that does not involve Iranian new year, today in Iran and has always been held in this country for all ethnic and religious groups. According to Persian mythology, Mithras was born at the end of the night after the long wait for the defeat of darkness against light. Shab-e Chelleh is now an important social occasion, when family and friends get together for fun and joy.

Generally, families get together in the homes of their elders. Different types of dried fruits, nuts , seeds and fresh fruits are consumed in winter. The presence of fresh and dried fruits is reminiscent of the ancient feasts to celebrate and pray to the gods to ensure the protection of winter crops. Watermelons, persimmons and pomegranates are traditional symbols of this celebration, representing all the sun. It used to be the habit of staying awake until dawn on the night of Yalda to eat, drink, listen to stories and poems, but this is no longer very common since most people have things to do the next day.

During the early days of the Roman Empire many Syrian Christians fled persecution in the Empire Sassanid of Persia, introducing the Yalda feast, in the sense of birth, causing Shab-e Yalda became synonymous with Shab-e Chelleh. Although both terms are used interchangeably, Chelleh is more commonly accepted for this occasion. 3. 4

Originally celebrated by the ancient Greeks as Kronia, the festival of Cronus, Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of Saturn, which originally took place on December 17 , but extended to a week, until December 23 . A major and important public festival in Rome, it dealt with conventional sacrifices, established a couch in front of the temple of Saturn and the disengagement of the ropes that delimited the statue of Saturn, during the rest of the year. In addition to the public rites there were a number of celebrations and customs held privately. The celebrations included a school holiday, implementation and delivery of small presents and a market.

The game was allowed for all, even for slaves during this period. The toga was not used, but rather the least, ie, colorful clothes and casual dining and pileus was used by all. The slaves were exempt from punishment, and treated with contempt of their masters. The slaves celebrated a feast before the feast, being attended by their owners. Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals that gave rise to more madness, marked mainly by the ostensible change of places between masters and slaves, which temporarily reversed the social order. In the folklore Greek and Cypriot believed that children born during the festival were in danger of becoming Kallikantzaroi which would leave the Earth after the solstice to cause trouble for mortals. Some left gifts at their doors to distract them until the sun returned.

The winter night Seva Zistanê is an unofficial holiday celebrated by communities around the Kurdistan in the Middle East. Tonight is considered one of the oldest festivals still observed by modern Kurds as a feast and was celebrated by the ancient tribes of the region as a holy day. The holiday falls every year on the winter solstice. Since the night is the longest of the year, the ancient tribes believed that it was the night when there was a victory of light over the darkness and meant the rebirth of the sun. The sun plays an important role in several ancient religions still practiced by some Kurds in addition to its importance in Zoroastrianism.

In modern times, communities in the Kurdistan region still observe the night as a holiday. Many families prepare large feasts for their communities and children play and are given sweets in a manner similar to that of today in the practices of Halloween .

Sol Invictus, or more broadly, Deus Sol Invictus was a religious title applied to at least three divinities later during the Roman Empire in the third century. A festival of the birth of Unconquered Sun (or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti ) was celebrated by the Romans on December 25. In this respect, the first day after the six days of the (apparent) solar stagnation of the winter solstice, the duration of the first light of day begins to rise, like the sun once again, and the sunrise begins its Movement towards the North, which was interpreted like the "rebirth" of the sun. The Mithraism, mystery religion with Legionnaires expanded throughout the Roman Empire, he came to extend this cult. With the growing popularity of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth came to be long before the recognition given to a sun god. This was later condemned by the early Catholic Church of Christ's association with pagan practices.

Olentzero or Olentzaro is a Navarre character of the Basque Christmas tradition. It is a coal mythological bringing gifts on Christmas Day in the homes of Euskal Herria (Basque Country, Navarra and Basque Country French) whose origin is in the area of Lesaka.

Apalpador or Perdigueiro is a character in the holiday tradition Galician. It is a mythological belief that according to the tradition the night of 24 and 31 December, it touches the belly of children to see if they have eaten enough during the year, leaving plenty of chestnuts, possibly a gift and wishing that Have a new year full of happiness and food.

Soyalangwul is the winter solstice ceremony of Zuni and Hopitu Shinumu, also known as Hopi Indians. It is celebrated on December 21, the shortest day of the year. The main purpose of the ritual ceremony is for the sun to return from their long winter sleep . It also marks the beginning of another cycle of the Wheel of the Year, and is a time of purification. Pahos (prayer sticks) are made before the Soyal ceremony, blessing the whole community, including their homes, animals and plants. The kivas (sacred underground chambers rituals) open in a ritual to mark the beginning of the season Kachina 37 38

Wayeb 'or Uayeb, is a month of 5 days to complete the Mayan year are five days of the Haab, Mayan solar calendar. This is a special period and people perform rituals in their homes or clean their hair. These days are complementary for astronomical time, and to complement the cycle of 365 days. This calendar is linked to agricultural activities, which takes account of the times of the seasons, rain cycles, the time of sowing and harvesting the sacred maize as food given by the heart of heaven and earth; The cycles of hunting, fishing. Also to take control of pests and diseases in crops.

The rituals of the Calendar Round which were held at the end of each 52 years (coincidence of three Mayan calendars), with 4 Wayeb to 1 Imix 0 Pop , with all extinguished fires and a new fire ceremony symbolizing a new beginning .

The next round of Calendar will be on the winter solstice of 2012 , starting a new baktun . HAAB observations are still held by Mayan communities in the Guatemalan highlands. 39 40

Originally the name Giuli meant 60 days of the lunar tide in the afternoon in the Nordic and Germanic Scandinavian winter. The arrival of Juletid therefore came to refer to midwinter celebrations. At the end of the era Viking Christmas celebrations became a great festival in which the Winter Solstice was amalgamated with the traditions of the various celebrations midwinter throughout Europe, as Mitwinternacht, Modrasnach, Midvinterblot, and the celebration of Teutonic solstice and the Feast of the Dead.

A well-documented example of this is in 960, when King Haakon I of Norway , signed in July a law to be held on the evening of December 25, to fit with the Christian celebration. For some Norse sects Yule logs were lit to honor Thor, the god of thunder. The party continued until the record was burned, from three or even twelve days. The natives of the Icelandic tradition Jol continued beyond the Middle Ages, but were condemned when the Reformation arrived. The celebration continues today throughout northern Europe and in other places of name and traditions. For Christians, as representative of the nativity of Jesus on the night of December 24, and for others as a cultural winter festival in the 24th or for some, the date of the solstice.

In the Neopagan Germanic sects, Yule is celebrated with meetings that often include a meal and gifts. New attempts to rebuild or survive historical account celebrations are often characteristic variations of traditional ones. However, it has been pointed out that this is not really a reconstruction, because these traditions have never died: they have only been replaced by the Christian elements of the celebration substituting the event at the solstice.

The Icelandic Asatru and the Popular Assembly of Asatru in the US. UU. recognized as Yule Jol for 12 days from the date of the winter solstice. Between 21 and 30 December celebrate the winter solstice or Yule Jól as the rebirth of the sun god Balder . It coincides with the elevation of the Sun within the annual cycle and the beginning of the luminous time.

In Wicca, a form of celebration is seen as one of the eight days of sun holidays, or Sabbat. In most traditions of Wicca, at this event the revival of the Great God, is celebrated 43 which is considered as the newborn solstice sun. Although the name of Yule has been allocated from the Germanic and Norse paganism, elements of the celebration itself are of modern origin.

Adapting the Egyptian celebrations Osiris, Babylon held the annual renewal or new year celebration, the Zagmuk Festival . It lasted 12 days overlapping the winter solstice or vernal equinox in the center of its peak. It is a festival celebrated by observing the battle of the sun god Marduk against darkness. The Babylonians celebrated both land and river parades. Sacaea, as Berossus referred to it, it has characterized the festivals with the subversion of order leading to the new year. Masters and slaves were exchanged, a simulation of the coronation of the king and masks that obstructed the streets. This was a precursor of the Festival of Kronos, and possibly the Saturnalia and Purim.

In ancient Latvia, Ziemassvētki, meaning winter holiday, was celebrated on December 21 as one of the two major parties, the other was Jani. Ziemassvētki celebrated the birth of Dievs, the greatest god of Latvian mythology. The two weeks before Ziemassvetki were called velu laiks, the season of ghosts. During the festival, candles were lit for Dieviņš and a fiery fire was to be maintained until the end, and its extinction signaled the end of the previous year's misery.

During the banquet, a space at the table was reserved for ghosts, who was due to arrive in a sleigh. During the party, always certain foods were eaten like bread, beans, peas, pork especially its chops and legs. Carolers (Budeļi) went from door to door singing songs and feeding in different houses. This celebration was later adapted by Christians in the Middle Ages. Lithuanians of the Romuva religion continue to celebrate a variant of the original polytheistic celebration.