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In 2015, December 22 will mark the exact mid-point of winter in the Northern Hemisphere—the shortest day and longest night of the year.
This is the Winter Solstice, and for many, conjures images of pine trees, decorated wreaths, and burning Yule logs.
But while that may sound like Christmas, as a matter of fact, nearly all Christmas traditions are borrowed from other celebrations.
Different cultures have been celebrating the solstice for over 5,000 years.
So why do Holidays fall around the Winter Solstice?
Well, the term solstice literally means "sun stands still."
As far back as 3,000 BC, Neolithic people erected sculptures and architecture to frame this type of solar alignment.
Scholars believe that these solstice sculptures had a religious significance, and that sites in Europe like Newgrange and Stonehenge were meant for worship.
We also know that the Romans famously celebrated an occasion they called Saturnalia, which marked the mid-point of winter with a debaucherous seven day festival.
In Iran, the festival of Yalda also takes place on the solstice, and dates back to the pre-Islamic religion of Zoroastrianism, which itself dates back to around 600 BC.
Like Christmas, Yalda celebrates the birth of Mithra.
In fact, the word Yalda means "birth."
Many winter solstice festivals are focused on the idea of birth or rebirth.
Some have suggested that these celebrations also served the purpose of keeping a large group of people awake on the darkest, and arguably, most dangerous night of the year.
Within the Buddhist tradition, the solstice is a day of celebrating the daughter of a pre-Christian Indian Emperor.
The festival, known as "Sanghamitta Day" is considered a major holiday for modern Buddhists.
And in Chinese and other East Asian cultures, the solstice is one of the most important celebrations, called the Donghzi Festival.
So where do our Christmas traditions come from?
Well, historical records show that the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe also celebrated the winter solstice in a form called Yule.
The Christmas tree, pine wreath, and Yule log all derive from the pagan Yule festival, all predating the Christian symbols of the winter solstice.
But as Christianity grew from a cult into a mass religion, pagan traditions were adapted to make the burgeoning movement seem more familiar to early Christian converts.
Despite Christmas' stranglehold on winter solstice holidays, it is actually one of many ongoing holidays.
Like other portions of the Christian religion, the basics are mostly borrowed from long standing traditions.
So this holiday season, instead of saying "Merry Christmas," why not wish everyone a "Super Saturnalia"?
Many pagan traditions revolve around nature, but the umbrella of pagan religions is more diverse than you'd think.
Learn more about their beliefs in our video right here.
Then modern times, the neo pagant movement has become associated with Wicca, or pagan witchcraft, which was invented by an English man in the mid 20th century.
It was based on the idea that witches are not followers of satan, as had been believed, but rather followers of a pre-Christian religion. followers were pre-christian religion.
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Why Do Holidays Fall Around The Winter Solstice?

206 Folder Collection
Shinichiro published on November 19, 2019
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