Happy Summer Solstice everyone. It is the Summer Solstice or Midsummers Day in the Northern Hemisphere. The word Solstice comes from the Latin “Sol” meaning sun and “Sistere” meaning to stand still. It is the longest day of the year with 15 hours of sunshine. The sun is at its most powerful today. Celebrated by almost all cultures historically, it is an important time of the year for Pagans and Pantheists as one of the major festivals. Also known as Litha after the Anglo Saxon name for the summer months or Alban Heruin (light of the shore) in revival Druidry traditions, it is a great time to celebrate by having a BBQ and bonfire on the beach.
Crops have all been planted and are growing strongly, the earth is alive with blooming flowers, green trees and insects busy collecting pollen and making honey. It is a time to rest, to have…
Happy Beltane/ May Day everyone. Beltane, meaning “bright fire” is one of the four great fire festivals of the ancient Celtic cultures. In ancient Irish culture it was the time when both the Tuatha De Danaan and the Milesians came to Ireland and was originally celebrated when the Hawthorns began to blossom. Half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, it marks the start of the light half of the year and heralds the beginning of summer. According to historian Ronald Hutton, “the ritual of Beltane was found in all Celtic areas of the British Isles, but also in pastoral regions of Germanic and Scandinavian Europe.” The historical evidence for the celebration of this festival is much better than for others. The earliest references to it are from 900AD which state “lucky fire i.e two fires Druids used to make with great incantations, and they used to bring…
Winternights (Vetrnætr) is one of the three major festivals celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia, the others being midwinter (Yule, Jól/Jólablót, Hökunótt) and the beginning of the summer raiding season (Sigrblót “Victory Blot” or Sumarmál). Snorri Sturluson wrote of these festivals in the Ynglinga saga of the Heimskringla: “There should be a sacrifice at the beginning of winter for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop, the third in summer day, that was the sacrifice for victory.”
Christmas as we know it today has developed from a variety of origins, including pagan ones! Things like the evergreen tree, mistletoe, gift giving, and even the birth date of Jesus have come from pagan sources.
The Winter Solstice is celebrated around December 20-23 (northern hemisphere), the shortest day of the year. Yule celebrates the return of the light as it is the point from which the days grow longer until the Summer Solstice (Midsummer/Litha).
‘Hogmanay’ is celebrated in Scotland on the last day of the year, with festivities often extending until the first or second day of the New Year. Also known as Ne’erday (Netherday, New Year’s Day), Hogmanay is thought to be related to pagan celebrations such as the Winter Solstice and Yule. The origin of the term ‘Hogmanay’ is debated, but the festival has been an integral part of Scotland for centuries.
The Winter Solstice, or Midwinter, is celebrated around the world by a variety of cultures. It marks the shortest day of the year (the longest night), and when the sun is at its lowest on the horizon. This usually occurs around December 21-22 in the Northern Hemisphere. From that point onwards, the days continue to grow longer until Midsummer in June. In Celtic countries, the Winter Solstice was seen as a time of rebirth and renewal, as signified by the return of the light.