Today is the Winter Solstice and Rita Bay has a visit from a special guest. Runere McLain has managed a boisterous family, a series of interesting jobs, a writing career, a home with loads of pets and a fascinating life with a twist of paranormal of her own. She is published with L&L Dreamspell. Her credits include Dreamspell Haunts Vol II New Orleans’ Coast of Spanish Gold and ‘The Making Of Smokey, The Vampire Bayou Dorg’ (http://www.lldreamspell.com). Celebrated world over for thousands of years, Winter Solstice starts the solar year. Beginning the Wheel of the Year, it’s a celebration of Light and the rebirth of the Sun. In old Europe it was known as Yule, from the Norse Jul, meaning wheel.
Many Western-based cultures refer to this holiday as “Christmas,” yet research into the origins of Christmas reveal pagan roots. In the third century Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the “Invincible Sun” as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi, was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice.
Many Christmas traditions have roots in pagan celebration as well, sharing the use of sacred herbs for scents and cooking, and sacred Druidic colors of red, green and white used for Christmas decorations. Mistletoe hung from a ceiling (for good luck during the coming year), the creation and hanging of an evergreen wreath on the door (symbol of the Wheel of Life), and the custom of family feasting together and exchanging gifts (the heart of Saturnalia) have long been shared religious traditions.
Even old Santa Claus may be claimed as a Pagan Godform. A folk figure with multicultural roots, he embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), and the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year).
For all the differences in Christianity and Paganism, this season is the one that truly joins them in intent. Both see this as a time to strengthen the bond of family and friends by visiting and exchanging gifts and greetings. Both decorate their homes with lights, greens and holiday colors. Both see this as a time to help others, with food and clothing drives to help social service organizations aid those less fortunate. Both greet the dawn of their personal celebratory day – Winter Solstice on the 22nd of December this year, and Christmas on the 25th—with the ringing of bells.
But the strongest common bond, considered by both to be the spirit of this holiday’s intent, lies in this shared heartfelt blessing: Peace on Earth; good will toward all men.
Thanks so much, Runere. Runere wrote a fascinating blog last week on the ceremony connected with the Winter Solstice. Check it out here: http://southernsizzleromance.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/phantasy-friday-a-winter-solstice-celebration/ You can visit Runere at RunereMcLain.com.
Tomorrow, Christmas Favorites. Rita Bay