Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The 2019 winter solstice is 11:19 p.m. (eastern time) December 21st.  The date of the winter solstice varies from year to year, and can fall anywhere between December 20 and December 23.  Day light hours lessen before the solstice.  It is the longest night of the year.  The word solstice is a derivative of the Latin term solstitium, containing sol, which means “sun,” and the past participle stem of sistere, meaning “to make stand.” On the solstice, the sun appears to pause at noon.

Ancient pagan societies held solstice celebrations and rites to herald the return of the Sun and hope for new life. Scandinavian and Germanic pagans lit fires. The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. The log was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze.   Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log.

Stonehenge

The primary axis of Stonehenge is oriented to the winter solstice setting sun. Some have theorized that the position of the Sun was of religious significance to the people who built Stonehenge.  The purpose of Stonehenge is still essentially unknown, but its importance on the winter solstice continues, as pagans and other types of enthusiasts gather there every year to celebrate the occasion.

In 2018, Ecospirituality Resources provided a Winter Solstice Prayer