I thought I would share a little insight on December Solstice or Night of the Midnight Sun in honour of both the event and #Creepfest…
December Solstice usually occurs between 20/12 and 23/12 every year. This year it falls on the 22nd. This solstice celebrates the return of light and the continuing circle of seasons and life. Here are some ways that cultures around the world have celebrated the Solstice…
Yule is also known as Alban Arthan and was one of the “Lesser Sabbats” of the Wiccan year in a time when ancient believers celebrated the rebirth of the Sun God and days with more light. This took place annually around the time of the December solstice and lasted for 12 days.
Yule: The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god Thor. A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log.
In England, Germany, France and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained. The ashes were then collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night or kept as a charm and or as medicine.
In Ancient Rome the winter (December) solstice festival Saturnalia began on December 17 and lasted for seven days. It was held to honor Saturn, the father of the gods and was characterized by the suspension of discipline and reversal of the usual order. Grudges and quarrels were forgotten while businesses, courts and schools were closed. Wars were interrupted or postponed and slaves were served by their masters. Masquerades often occurred during this time. It was traditional to offer gifts of imitation fruit (a symbol of fertility), dolls (symbolic of the custom of human sacrifice), and candles (reminiscent of the bonfires traditionally associated with pagan solstice celebrations). A mock king was chosen, usually from a group of slaves or criminals, and although he was permitted to behave in an unrestrained manner for seven days of the festival, he was usually killed at the end. The Saturnalia eventually degenerated into a week-long spree of debauchery and crime – giving rise to the modern use of the tern saturnalia, meaning a period of unrestrained license and revelry.
In Poland the ancient December solstice observance prior to Christianity involved people showing forgiveness and sharing food. It was a tradition that can still be seen in what is known as Gody.
In the northwestern corner of Pakistan, a festival called Chaomos, takes place among the Kalasha or Kalash Kafir people. It lasts for at least seven days, including the day of the December solstice. It involves ritual baths as part of a purification process, as well as singing and chanting, a torchlight procession, dancing, bonfires and festive eating.
In Guatemala on this day, Mayan Indians honor the sun god they worshipped long before they became Christians with a dangerous ritual known as the polo voladore, or “flying pole dance”. Three men climb on top of a 50-foot pole. As one of them beats a drum and plays a flute, the other two men wind a rope attached to the pole around one foot and jump. If they land on their feet, it is believed that the sun god will be pleased and that the days will start getting longer.
The ancient Incas celebrated a special festival to honor the sun god at the time of the December solstice. In the 16th century ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholics in their bid to convert the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru, revived the festival in the 1950s. It is now a major festival that begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away.
Aside – One of my favourite books deals with the legends of the Solstice as well as other ancient stories that permeate early European cultures…
Today I am featured on Apparitions of Terror and hosted by the horror author and fellow #Creepfest blogger, Erik Gustafson. Find out what is moving in my Christmas stocking and read my short take on The Ghost of Christmas Past.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to guest post, by the talented and lovely Erin Cawood, on the topic of Heroes.
My heroes are very close to my heart so this was a topic I was excited to guest post on.
“The hero of my stories is usually an underdog. My heroes are rough-hewn and rough around the edges. They have a rebellious streak and love bucking the system. They usually do not know they are a hero until push comes to shove and they are thrown into the white hot fires of adversity, conflict and tension. Even though they are underdogs, they are no cowards. They also don’t have the bounties of life offered to them on a silver platter. They have had to fight for recognition and achievement every step of the way. They succeed through honour, integrity, loyalty and above all perseverance. They believe that if you do not stand for something or stand up for someone in life, you will fall for anything.
“My heroes and heroines don’t fit the mould of everyday society. They don’t follow the rules. They fight for their own place in society and they make their own rules. They are rebels with a good cause and they will do whatever is needed to fight for that cause whether it be rescuing someone or standing up for what they believe in. You will want my heroes and heroines on your side because believe me they are better friends than enemies. You might say my heroes and heroines are heroic rebels. … read more on the post here
A couple of weeks ago my good friend and one of my writing partners, Rachna Chhabria, asked if she could interview me on her lovely blog: Rachna’s Scriptorium. Rachna and I became friends through an online writers group called Scribblerati that we both belong to. Very soon we were Facebook friends and this year we became writing partners.
For those who follow my creativity blog, Dragonfly Scrolls, you will be aware that I am usually the one asking questions in the interviews. Asking the questions is the easy part. Rachna turned the tables on me this week and put me in the “answer” chair.
The interview will be posted in 2 parts. In this first part, posted today, Rachna asks me about my writing process and the NZ publishing scene. My thanks to Rachna for a lovely interview. If you have not visited her Scriptorium before, bookmark her blog because one visit will soon turn you into a fan.