winter solstice

Winter solstice was overlaid with Christmas, and the observance of Christmas spread throughout the globe. Along the way, we lost some of the deep connection of our celebrations to a fundamental seasonal, hemispheric event. Many people--of many beliefs--are looking to regain that connection now. In many cultures, customs practiced at Christmas go back to pre-Christian times. Many involve divination--foretelling the future at a magic time: the season turning of solstice. In Russia, there's a Christmas divination that involves candles. A girl would sit in a darkened room, with two lighted candles and two mirrors, pointed so that one reflects the candlelight into the other. The viewer would seek the seventh reflection, then look until her future would be seen. The early Germans built a stone altar to Hertha, or Bertha, goddess of domesticity and the home, during winter solstice. With a fire of fir boughs stoked on the altar, Hertha was able to descend through the smoke and guide those who were wise in Saga lore to foretell the fortunes of those at the feast. In Spain, there's an old custom that is a holdover from Roman days. The urn of fate is a large bowl containing slips of paper on which are written all the names of those at a family get-togehter. The slips of paper are drawn out two at a time. Those whose names are so joined are to be devoted friends for the year. Apparently, there's often a little finagling to help matchmaking along, as well. In Scandinavia, some families place all their shoes together, as this will cause them to live in harmony throughout the year. And in many, many cultures, it's considered bad luck for a fire or a candle to go out on Christmas Day. So keep those candles burning! ---- Sacred Plants of Winter Solstice Evergreens symbolizing: Continuity of Life, Protection, Prosperity types: Pine, Fir, Cedar, Juniper, other evergreens forms: boughs, wreaths, garlands, trees divinities: Green Goddesses & Gods; Hertha; Cybele, Attis, Dionysius (Pine); Woodland Spirits traditions: Roman, Celtic, Teutonic, Christian Holly symbolizing: Old Solar Year; Waning Sun; Protection; Good Luck forms: boughs over portals, wreaths divinities: Holly King; Old Nick; Saturn; Bacchus; Wood Spirits; Holly Boys traditions: Roman, Celtic, English, Christian Oak symbolizing: New Solar Year; Waxing Sun; Endurance, Strength, Triumph, Protection, Good Luck forms: Yule log, acorns, wood for sacred fires divinities: Oak King; Oak Spirit; Sky Gods including Thor, Jupiter, Zeus traditions: Teutonic, Celtic, Christian Mistletoe symbolizing: Peace, Prosperity, Healing, Wellness, Fertility, Rest, Protection forms: boughs, amulet sprigs above doorways, kissing balls divinities: Oak Spirit; Frigga and Balder traditions: Celtic, Teutonic Ivy symbolizing: Fidelity, Protection, Healing, Marriage, Victory, Honor, Good Luck forms: crowns, wreaths, garlands divinities: Dionysius; Bacchus; Great Goddess; Ivy Girls traditions: Greek, Roman, English, Christian Frankincense symbolizing: Sun, Purification, Consecration, Protection, Spiritual Illumination forms: incense, oils divinities: Sun Gods, Ra at Dawn, Bel traditions: Babalyonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Christian Myrrh symbolizing: Healing, Death and Afterlife, Purification, Inner Peace forms: incense, oils divinities: Isis, Ra at Midday traditions: Egyptian, Jewish, Christian Wheat symbolizing: Sustenance, Abundance, Fertility, Good Luck forms: grain, straw figures and symbols, cookies, cakes, breads divinities: Earth Goddesses; Saturn & Ops; Goat Spirit; Fairy Folk traditions: Roman, Celtic, Scots, Teutonic, Sweedish, Christian Celtic Tree Calendar's Sacred Trees of Winter Solstice: Yew: Last Day of Solar Year; Death. Silver Fir: Winter Solstice Day; Birth. Birch: Month following Winter Solstice; Beginnings.

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