Holiday Celebration Series | Winter Solstice
Holiday Celebration Cultural Awareness Series | Winter Solstice
[VIDEO DESC: Ian Sanborn, Community Services Coordinator, is wearing a dark v-neck shirt with a pattern of white specks.]
Hello! Happy Holidays! At DCARA, we want to acknowledge and recognize other holiday celebrations & traditions to increase cultural awareness for our community.
History of Winter Solstice
The winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Humans may have observed the winter solstice for about 12,200 years. Many cultures around the world celebrate with feasts and holidays around the winter solstice.
After the winter solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter as spring approaches. The winter solstice is on between December 20 and 23 in the northern hemisphere while in the southern hemisphere is in June.
Ways to Celebrate
There are celebrations and traditions all over the world. Fire and light are traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year. People celebrate with light such as candlelights and bonfires, special meals, films, dances, gifts, dress up in special clothing, and many more to celebrate the return of the sun in the coming months.
Humans celebrate the winter solstice with food such as nuts, berries, hunted meats and seafoods, squash, potatoes, and, most importantly, spices! There are traditional foods from all over the world. Some foods come with names originated by historical events. And, one more important thing to add is a cup of hot drink to warm your body and soul, and to be grateful for light.
[VIDEO DESC: Everett Glenn, DCARA Board Member, is wearing a dark gray shirt and a pair of black semi-rim glasses.]
Today we want to recognize and celebrate the Winter Solstice during December 21.
The winter solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the sun. The days become longer. It’s also believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection.
Here are the Interesting facts about winter solstice.
The ancient Persian festival celebrates the end of shorter days and the victory of light over darkness. They begin the celebration by hosting family gatherings, put out the candles, do poetry reading and have a feast to get through the longest night of the year. Nuts and fruits, including watermelon and pomegranates are traditionally eaten.
In Scandinavia, they have a feast called the Feast of Juul. Scandinavians would keep a piece of the log as a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log.
In England, Germany, France and European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained then the ash will be collected and strewn in the fields as fertilizers overnight until 12th night as a charm or as medicine.
The ancient Incas celebrated a special festival to honor the sun god, “Inti”, at the time of the December solstice. In the 16th century, ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholics in their bid to convert the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru, revived the festival in the 1950s. It is now a major festival that begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away.
In Dong Zhi, China they celebrate winter solstice because it has roots in the Chinese concept of yin and yang. After the solstice the abundance of darkness in winter will begin to be balanced with the light of the sun. They celebrate with family gatherings and a big meal including rice balls called tang yuan.
In Japan, they eat winter squash called Kobocha and a hot bath with Yuzu Citrus fruit is believed to refresh the body and spirit, ward off illness as well as soothe dry winter skin.
I hope you learned something new about winter solstice today because I did too!