On December 21, 2015 at 11:49 PM EST we experience the exact moment of the winter solstice, the first day of winter. This makes for the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Days will get longer until the summer solstice in June 2016. The winter solstice is celebrated as the return of the sun. Darkness is turning into light. What did our ancestors believe and what remains their legacy to us regarding this most spiritual of days?
Saturnalia & Etc.,
In ancient Rome, the winter solstice was enjoyed at the Feast of Saturnalia, the god of agricultural bounty. The week long festivities were characterized by drinking, debauchery and gift-giving. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, many of these customs were adjusted into much milder (and tamer) Christmas celebrations. The English Lord of Misrule has his roots in these old traditions. The Tudor King Henry VIII saw to it that…
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