Ancient History of Winter Solstice Traditions and Sites

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Video

Kelly Macquire
by
published on 18 December 2022

The winter solstice, falling in December in the Northern hemisphere and June in the Southern hemisphere, is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The winter solstice, also referred to as ‘midwinter’ is associated with the idea of rebirth of both the sun and the new year, and after the shortest day, the days get a bit longer, and a bit brighter. The movement of the sun and the skies in general have been monitored by humanity for a long, long time, all around the world, especially since tracking the sun and the seasons was imperative for crop growth and agriculture.

We’re not entirely sure for just how long humans have recognised the winter solstice as a turning point, but we know it was important for heralding in the new sun or sun god for the next year. The concept of rebirth inspired the festive practice of role-reversal best seen in the festivities of Saturnalia in Rome where the role of slave and master would reverse and, earlier, in Mesopotamian civilizations. The solstice observances, celebrated around the globe and through history, all centred around similar themes including light conquering darkness, renewal, new life, and rebirth, when, after the shortest day and longest night of the year, the darkness would give way to the light of longer days and shorter nights.

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— CHAPTERS —
0:00​ Introduction
1:01 What is the Winter Solstice?
2:50 Winter Solstice Traditions and Sites
8:53 Outro

— WANT TO KNOW MORE? —
Christmas Through the Ages https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1893/christmas-through-the-ages/
Stonehenge https://www.worldhistory.org/stonehenge/
A Medieval Christmas https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1288/a-medieval-christmas/
Saturnalia https://www.worldhistory.org/Saturnalia/
Newgrange https://www.worldhistory.org/Newgrange/

— WATCH NEXT —
The Norse Origins of Christmas Traditions
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_429DBg6ihA
Saturnalia: the Jolliest Ancient Roman Festival!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id–bsV7Wv8
What is Stonehenge? The Mysteries of the Neolithic Stone Circle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tubyijlbWAMThe History of Samhain and Halloween!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkSZ6P4jEDA

— ATTRIBUTIONS —
You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here - https://worldhistory.typehut.com/ancient-history-of-winter-solstice-traditions-and-sites-images-and-attributions-12552

World History Encyclopedia
www.worldhistory.org

#wintersolstice #christmashistory #ancienthistory #stonehenge

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, December 18). Ancient History of Winter Solstice Traditions and Sites. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2886/ancient-history-of-winter-solstice-traditions-and/

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Ancient History of Winter Solstice Traditions and Sites." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified December 18, 2022. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2886/ancient-history-of-winter-solstice-traditions-and/.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Ancient History of Winter Solstice Traditions and Sites." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 18 Dec 2022. Web. 04 Feb 2023.

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