2020 winter solstice is coming!
The longest night of the year, the night that is dark and full of terrors, the night that brings along the army of the dead and the Night King.
Yes, we are not kidding!
Just minus the army of the dead and the night King, what we’re talking about is the Winter Solstice: the longest night of the year!
In the midst of the hurly-burly of holiday season, many are vaguely aware of the arrival of winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
The day officially marks the end of the fall and the beginning of winter! It’s the day when we take out our Christmas lights, cover our bodies with layers of clothing, build a snowman (probably) or snuggle in our cozy blanket all night long.
But despite that, the day is also known for its rich history, which inspired mystical celebrations in anticipation of the subsequent return of the sun. The day has been celebrated worldwide for thousands of years. It was the time of the year when ancient cultures gathered stock, performed cultural rituals and began the new half of the year with festivals. From Vikings to Maya and the ancient Chinese, they had their own ways of celebrating this day!
Whether you’re looking to relish this year’s solstice or just curious about one of history’s most ancient holidays, here are some interesting facts to learn about the shortest day of the year and winter solstice celebration 2020 or solstice tradition!
Winter Solstice or December Solsticemostly happens on December 21 or 22
The actual date of the winter solstice differs from year to year, and can occur any day between December 20 and December 23, though it mostly falls on 21st or 22nd of December. This is because of the tropical year; the time taken by the sun to return to the exact spot corresponding to Earth is distinct for the calendar year.
It occurs at a specific day and at a specific time
Regardless of wherever you live, you will observe a winter solstice at the same moment and on the exact same time as everyone else on the planet. This is the time when the North Pole will be farthest away from the sun with 23.5 tilt of the Earth’s axis. This is when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which happens once in a year.
Some ancient cultures referred to this day as a time of death and rebirth!
The apparent death of the light and the subsequent starvation over the winter months had great influence over ancient communities, who performed different solstice celebrations and winter solstice rituals aimed to pray for the return of the sun and the beginning of a new life.
Scandinavian and Germanic pagans used to light fires and burn Yule logs as a symbolic means of embracing the return of light. People used to slaughter cattle and other animals to prepare huge feast out of them as a means of enjoying the last fresh meat for several months. Alban Arthan, a Druidic celebration of winter solstice, was held in the belief of the death of the old sun and birth of the new one.
The winter Solstice marked the great discoveries in the world…
Call it a coincidence or some superstition related to this day, but in previous years, many new and strange worlds have been discovered on the winter solstice.
For example, on December, 1620, the Pilgrims discovered a new place at Plymouth where they were allowed to worship freely. On the same day in 1898, scientists named Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium, marking the beginning of the atomic age. And on 21st December 1968, humans travelled to the moon for the first time in Apollo 8 spacecraft.
The word Solstice means “The world stands still”
The world Solstice is derived from a Latin scientific term solstitium, in which ‘Sol’ stands for “sun” and the past tense of sistere, meaning “to make stand.” in case you didn't know solstice meaning.
The word explains the phenomenon that the sun’s position in the sky increases and decreases throughout the year at noon, but it appears to be standing still in the days of the solstice. In today’s age, we consider that the Earth is relative to the Sun on the winter solstice.
On the winter solstice, the Stonehenge is aligned to the sunset
The winter solstice sunset appears to align with the primary axis of the pre-historic monument as well as of Newgrange- another megalithic structure build around the same period as Stonehenge- lines up with the winter solstice sunrise.
This rare alignment of sun and the Stonehenge holds great religious significance to some people, while others believe that it was a mere coincidence that the structure was built in a way that aligns with winter solstice sunset.
Till this day, the Stonehenge and the solstice sunset alignment still remains a mystery, but thousands of hippies, pagans, and other curious-minded people gather there every year to celebrate the occasion.
Dark spirits walked down the earth during winter solstice
The long night of Game of Thrones just got real!
In the Zoroastrian folklores, it was believed that evil entities roam around the Earth! Not only this, but it has also been believed that the destructive spirits of Ahriman are strongest during this long night—because of which people used to stay awake all night— spending the night like a festival in the company of one another.
They chatted, drank, ate, and shared poetries and stories with one another in order to avoid any encounters with dark spirits. Similar beliefs have also been included in Celtic and Germanic folklores.
Some believed that the world is going to end on winter Solstice in 2012
According to the Mesoamerican Long count calendar used by the ancient Maya, December 21, 2012 marks the end of a 5126-year cycle which also equates to the date of 22.214.171.124.0. Some people believed that this moment would bring the end of the world or some other catastrophic event.
Some modern theorists believed that it could mark the beginning of a new era, involving the total rehab of Earth and its habitants, an idea that inspired the movie 2012! Thankfully, none if this happened in 2012, otherwise we wouldn’t have to live this dreadful year of 2020.
As the longest night of the year is inching closer, you might want to grab some daggers made of dragon stone or Valerian steel swords (just kidding!). What we actually mean is ‘popcorns’ and enjoy watching movies from our list of 80+ Love, Disney and modern Christmas movies.
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