Valentine’s Day


February: A month for purification and love.

This celebration of love originally began as a lunar holiday to honor the primordial Mother Goddess, on the eve of the full moon.  She was known as Gaia, Tera Mater, Cybelle, Juno, etc… Juno, became the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. A special purification celebration followed the next day, which fell in the middle of this lunar cycle.

Shortly after 753 BC, the Feast of Lupercalia, replaced this full moon celebration in Februalia. Lupercalia is derived from the word lupus, which is Latin for wolf. This date also marks the founding of Rome.

According to legend, the story of Romulus and Remus begins when they were found as infants abandoned in the woods.  Lupercal, a she-wolf, nursed them with her milk. Faunus, also known as Pan, represents the “all” found in nature, who is thought to have taught the infants how to forage in the woods. In this legend, he is sometimes referred to as, Lupercus “he who wards off the wolf”. The twins were later discovered by a shepard, who named them Romulus and Remus. Eventually they went back to the sacred cave, where Lupercal had nursed them. In her honor they created a city of their own, eventually naming it Roma after Romulus.

Lupercalia was a festival of purification and fertility in honor of Lupercal. Each year the Luperci priests gathered at her cave. They planted a fig tree at the entrance to the cave to signify the gifts of the forests. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first grains of the previous years harvest and offered them to the fig tree.

Two naked young men (symbolic of Romulus and Remus), assisted by the Vestal Virgins, sacrificed a dog (symbolic of the wolf/loyalty) and a goat (symbolic of Pan/Fauna/nature) at the site. The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool (symbolic of purification) dipped in milk (symbolic of love). The youths wore loincloths made from the skin of the goat and led groups of Lupercai priests around the base of the hills of Rome. The occasion was happy and festive. As they ran about the city, the young men lightly tapped women along the way with strips of the goat hide. This act supposedly provided purification from curses, bad luck, and infertility.

In 713 BC, February/Februalia, became an official month in the original Roman lunar calendar. February 14th, became the date that signaled the Eve of the Full Moon.

When the Julian calendar was created in 46 BC, the lunar calendar was replaced with a solar calendar and February became the month that could be shortened from 30 – 27 days. Thus making it the only month that had the possibility of having no full moon at all. Lupercalia continued to be celebrated on February 15th, regardless of the full moon.

Mark Anthony, chose the Lupercalia festival, in 44BC, as the proper time to offer the crown to Julius Caesar. Roman armies took the Lupercalia customs with them, as they invaded France and Britain.

During this time young boys and girls created a custom that began on February 14th, the Eve of the Festival of Lupercalia. The girl’s names were written on pieces of paper and inserted into jars. Each boy then drew a girl’s name from the jar becoming partners throughout the Festival. After being paired, the children would often continue to see each other, fall in love and eventually get married.

Around 260 AD, Emperor Claudius II, of Rome, was having a difficult time recruiting quality men as soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage. The ban on marriage was a great shock to the Romans.

An early Christian priest, named Valentine, felt sorry for the young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. When a couple came to him, seeking to be married, Valentine secretly obliged. Valentine became the friend of lovers in every district of Rome. Valentine refused to recognize the Roman Gods. This angered Claudius II, who ordered the execution of Valentine on February 14th, 270 AD.

February 14th, unofficially became a day for lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. It continued to be observed, in secret, by young Romans who offered handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines, to the women they admired.

In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasius replaced the festival of Lupercalia, with a new church sanctioned holiday.

He declared St. Valentine, as the Patron Saint of Lovers, who would be honored at the new festival of St. Valentines Day, on February 14th. The church also replaced the old lottery with a lottery of Saints. Instead of pulling girls and boys names, young people were asked to pull the name of a Saint, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that Saint. The Feast of St. Valentine and the Saint lottery lasted for a couple hundred years, but the church just couldn’t rid the Roman’s love of Lupercalia.

St. Valentine soon became one of the most popular Saints in England and France. The association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship grew through the Middle Ages. During the days of chivalry, the single’s lottery became popular again. The names of English maidens and bachelors were put into a box and drawn out in pairs. The couple exchanged gifts and the girl became the man’s valentine for a year. He wore her name on his sleeve and it was his duty to attend and protect her. The ancient custom of drawing names on the 14th of February was considered a good omen for love.

By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine’s Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards were made of lace and ribbons, featuring cupids and hearts. They were handed to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies.

Today, Valentine’s Day is a major American holiday. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are Valentines.

“Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of Gods light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. You will perceive the Divine mystery in things and once you have perceived it you will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly, more and more everyday. And you will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding universal love.”  – Dostoyevsky

Imbolc, Februa & Lupus


“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~ Proverb  Snow Drops February – a time of growing light, prophecy, purification and love. Februa means to clean, purify and prepare. Ancient celtic cultures celebrated the beginning of February with Imbolc, “the belly of the mother”, which signaled a time when the seeds planted in Mother Earth were beginning to open and lambs began lactating. In ancient Greece and Italy, this was a rainy time of year that gave people a chance to wash and purify themselves. The name Februa, is associated with anything used to purify, including wool, brooms, pine boughs, water etc… Februa, became the Roman God of purification and the dead. Februa, is also known as the Greek God, Hades or the Celtic God, Dis Pater. This concept of purification and death can be traced to the ancient love story and burial practices of the Egyptian Gods Isis and Osiris. Eventually, Februalia, became a month-long celebration of purification and atonement. The festival of Brigit, the Goddess who “brings back the light”, represented the growing Sun that warmed the ground. Together they remind us that new life is stirring within. Snowdrop flowers (galanthas nivalis) are also known as Candlemas Bells because they often bloom early in February.  Some varieties bloom all winter (in the northern hemisphere). It is also believed that these flowers purify a home. Imbolc/Candlemas/Ground Hog Day – Feb 2nd (Northern Hemisphere) Imbolc and Candlemas occur at a period between the December Winter Solstice and the March Spring Equinox, traditionally marking that time of the year as winter’s “halfway point” while waiting for the spring. This period is seen as the time of the “bringing of the light” or the “growing of the light”. In the northern hemisphere the sun is growing as the days become longer, reaching its full potential on the Summer Solstice in June. The word Imbolc refers to the lactation of the ewes, the flow of milk that heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring, especially the growing light of the sun. Irish farmers welcomed back the light on, St. Brigit’s Day. glowing-hands Brigit or Brighid is the Goddess of healing, arts and crafts, poetry, and inspired wisdom. She is the Goddess of fire, the hearth and energy. As the Goddess of fertility she is said to lean over every cradle to protect the innocence of the soul. The Christian Traditions of Candlemas The Catholic Church combined this festival by converting it into the celebration of Candlemas. Candles would be lit to symbolize the coming of the light and it is for this reason that it is called Candlemas. Candlemas is dedicated to the Virgin Mary with candlelight processions. Just as Brighid is seen as the light-bringer of the “sun”; Mother Mary is seen, by Christians, as the light-bringer of the “son” Jesus. Since Jesus’ birth was placed on Dec 25th, the original date of the Winter Solstice, this holiday flows with the traditional Celtic calendar. Candlemas also celebrates the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.Many Catholic Christians believe that Jesus’ mother Mary presented him to God at the Temple in Jerusalem after observing a traditional Jewish 40-day period of purification (of mothers) following his birth. According to a New Testament gospel, a Jewish man named Simeon held the baby in his arms and said that he would be a light for the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). Because of this event Candlemas is also known as the “Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple” in many eastern churches.  Candles are lit during Candlemas to symbolize Jesus as the “light of the world”. Connections to Groundhog Day iStock_000005552297XSmall The festival of the growing light can also be traced to the Groundhog Day custom of February 2. According to folklore, the badger/groundhog comes out to test the weather in the United Kingdom. If the groundhog sees his shadow on this morning, it means there will be six more weeks of winter. Celtic verse – “This is the day of Brighid who will come up from the mound. For this is the time when the animal world begins to stir. From its winter sleep in the depths of the earth. Life and light is ushered in by Brighid, the Queen.” Christian verse – “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
 there’ll be two winters in the year.” Origins of Valentines Day – February 14th In 713 BC, February, became an official month in the original Roman lunar calendar. February 14th, originally began as a lunar holiday to honor the primordial Mother Goddess, on the eve of the full moon. She was known as Gaia, Tera Mater, Cybelle, Juno, etc… Juno, became the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. A special purification celebration followed the next day, which fell in the middle of this lunar cycle.  Eventually the Feast of Lupercalia, replaced this full moon celebration in Februalia. hand holding moon Lupercalia is derived from the word lupus, which is Latin for wolf.  According to legend, the story of Romulus and Remus begins when they were found as infants abandoned in the woods. Lupercal, a she-wolf, nursed them with her milk. Faunus, also known as Pan, represents the “all” found in nature, who is thought to have taught the infants how to forage in the woods. In this legend, he is sometimes referred to as, Lupercus “he who wards off the wolf”. The twins were later discovered by a shepard, who named them Romulus and Remus. Eventually they went back to the sacred cave, where Lupercal had nursed them. In her honor they created a city of their own, eventually naming it Roma after Romulus. This story also marks the legendary founding of Rome. Wolf When the Julian calendar was created in 46 BC, the lunar calendar was replaced with a solar calendar and February became the month that could be shortened from 28 – 23 days. Thus making it the only month that had the possibility of having no full moon at all. Lupercalia continued to be celebrated on February 15th, regardless of the full moon. Mark Anthony, chose the Lupercalia festival, in 44BC, as the proper time to offer the crown to Julius Caesar. Roman armies took the Lupercalia customs with them, as they invaded France and Britain. Lupercalia was a festival of purification and fertility in honor of Lupercal. Each year the Luperci priests gathered at her cave. They planted a fig tree at the entrance to the cave to signify the gifts of the forests. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first grains of the previous years harvest and offered them to the fig tree. Two naked young men (symbolic of Romulus and Remus), assisted by the Vestal Virgins, sacrificed a dog (symbolic of the wolf/loyalty) and a goat (symbolic of Pan/Fauna/nature) at the site. The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool (symbolic of purification) dipped in milk (symbolic of love). The youths wore loincloths made from the skin of the goat and led groups of Lupercai priests around the base of the hills of Rome. The occasion was happy and festive. As they ran about the city, the young men lightly tapped women along the way with strips of the goat hide. This act supposedly provided purification from curses, bad luck, and infertility. During this time young boys and girls created a custom that began on February 14th, the Eve of the Festival of Lupercalia. The girl’s names were written on pieces of paper and inserted into jars. Each boy then drew a girl’s name from the jar becoming partners throughout the Festival. After being paired, the children would often continue to see each other, fall in love and eventually get married. Around 260 AD, Emperor Claudius II, of Rome, was having a difficult time recruiting quality men as soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage. The ban on marriage was a great shock to the Romans. An early Christian priest, named Valentine, felt sorry for the young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. When a couple came to him, seeking to be married, Valentine secretly obliged. Valentine became the friend of lovers in every district of Rome. Valentine refused to recognize the Roman Gods. This angered Claudius II, who ordered the execution of Valentine on February 14th, 270 AD. Love February 14th, unofficially became a day for lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. It continued to be observed, in secret, by young Romans who offered handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines, to the women they admired. In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasius replaced the festival of Lupercalia, with a new church sanctioned holiday. He declared St. Valentine, as the Patron Saint of Lovers, who would be honored at the new festival of St. Valentines Day, on February 14th. The church also replaced the old lottery with a lottery of Saints. Instead of pulling girls and boys names, young people were asked to pull the name of a Saint, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that Saint. The Feast of St. Valentine and the Saint lottery lasted for a couple hundred years, but the church just couldn’t rid the Roman’s love of Lupercalia. St. Valentine soon became one of the most popular Saints in England and France. The association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship grew through the Middle Ages. During the days of chivalry, the single’s lottery became popular again. The names of English maidens and bachelors were put into a box and drawn out in pairs. The couple exchanged gifts and the girl became the man’s valentine for a year. He wore her name on his sleeve and it was his duty to attend and protect her. The ancient custom of drawing names on the 14th of February was considered a good omen for love. By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine’s Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards were made of lace and ribbons, featuring cupids and hearts. They were handed to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies. Hands make heart shape Today, Valentine’s Day is a major American holiday. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are Valentines. Honor the love in your life and share that love with the world……. For love quotes click here…send a love quote to yourself or someone who needs it….

New Year


“New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.” – Hamilton Wright Mabie

iStock_000018466943Small

The New Year was originally celebrated by the Greeks, Romans and Celtic Europeans on the Winter Solstice.  When Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar in 46 BC he choose January 1st as the first day of the year in honor of its namesake Janus.

Snowy Scene

“When one door closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” – Helen Keller

The month of Inauarius (January) was created by the Roman King, Numa Pompilius, in 600 BC. Numa added Inauarius and Februarius to the existing 10 month Romulus calendar created in 800 BC. Inauarius was then celebrated as the first month of the revised 12 month calendar beginning in 200 BC. Prior to that, the new year began in March in honor of the Spring Equinox. Inauarius is pronounced Januarius, meaning month of Janus.

Ancient Roman Sculpture of Janus

Janus was the god of beginnings and endings, a gateway or doorway. He was seen as having two faces: one looking to the past and the other looking to the future. His counterpart is Juno, the goddess of June.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Einstein

Winter Solstice


“One is wise to cultivate the tree that bears fruit in our soul” – Henry David Thoreau

This morning I woke up to a world covered in snow. As I gazed out the window at the frozen remnants of my garden I reflected on the beauty of this present moment. This great cycle of life is reminding us that death is a natural part of life.  Like trees we need to reconnect with our roots and go deep within ourselves to find the essence of what we wish to rebirth in the spring.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

Celebrating Peace – Winter Solstice  The Winter Solstice on December 22nd is symbolic of inner peace as people throughout time have reconnected to their inner light. It is also both the shortest and darkest day of the year. It heralds the opening of the door when the sun is reborn, gradually growing in strength til the Midsummer Solstice on June 21st.

To Northern Europeans the Winter Solstice was known as Yule a celebration that lasted for twelve days. Yule trees were cut and decorated with images of wishes for the year ahead. A Yule log was burned and a portion of it saved to be used for protection of the home. One of the prominent early Gods of the Winter Solstice is the God Mithras. His origins date back over 4000 years or more. Mitra (circa 1700–1100 BC) is also seen as one of the ancient Hindu Gods of the Rigveda. Paired with the God Varuna, Mitra/Varuna are seen as the Devas who bring balance to the world. Varuna represents the God of the cosmic night sky, Mitra represents the dawning of the solar day. Together they bring light, life, order and truth to the world. Mithra (circa 1000 BC) is also one of the Persian Zoroastrian/Iranian Gods of Truth. Mithra (circa 600 BC) was also known as the Sumerian/Chaldean trinity of Anu/El (God of the Sky), Enki/Bel/Baal (Son of Anu/El) and Enlil/Hea (God of Wisdom), sometimes referred to as Ad (Adonai, Adonis or Lord) . With the creation of the Julian Calendar in 46 BC the Winter Solstice officially fell on December 25th. In Roman culture (circa 200 BC – 313 AD) Saturnalia (Saturn is the Roman God of Agriculture) began on December 17th and lasted for seven days culminating on December 25th the Winter Solstice.  On that day Mithras the Sun God or Sol Invictus (the invincible sun) was born. The Emperor Constantine saw himself as the Sol Invictus before converting to Christianity in 313 AD. This celebration was marked with wreaths on doors, gifting and feasting.

Early Christians didn’t have records of Jesus actual birthday so they chose the Winter Solstice as the perfect day to celebrate it. They saw it as both the rebirth of the “Son” & the “Sun”. Since Jesus taught that the “light” was within each of us, his followers wanted to honor his birth on a day that honored the “light within”. The Winter Solstice was the perfect time to honor that sacred connection. “You are the light of the world, let your light shine before men.”- Jesus, Matthew 5:14-16 “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:22 When Pope Gregory the VIII, adjusted the calendar in 1582AD, the Sun had changed in relation to the actual days so the Winter Solstice was moved to either December 21st or 22nd. Pope Gregory chose to keep Jesus birthday on December 25th as a way to separate the “Pagan” holiday from the “Christian” holiday. This severed our sacred connection to the Winter Solstice and the “light” we share with nature. People began to feel separate from the beauty and harmony nature great cycles of life provides.  The word pagan itself means “to be from nature”.

“Holidays” are “Holy Days” and the Winter Solstice is a “Holy Day”.  It is also natures “Holly Day” for Holly is symbolic of truth and the concept of being forever green/alive. Holly is an evergreen that is used to make wreaths for celebrating the sacred circle of life and natures cycle through the seasons. December has always been a month of inner reflection and preparation for the Winter Solstice. During the long nights of winter, nature reminds us quiet ourselves and nourish our bodies, minds and souls in preparation for Spring. It is interesting to remember that people in the Southern Hemisphere will be celebrating the Summer Solstice which is the opposite of the Winter Solstice.  By honoring natures balance of giving and receiving, light and dark, revealed and unrevealed we come to understand the beauty and harmony that exists within each of us. Today we rush around from place to place, overextending ourselves on so many levels. This is so counter intuitive to what nature had intended for us. My wish for you this holiday season is to find some time for peace and balance. To breathe, be gentle with yourself and others and to count your blessings. Find joy in the simple things and to remember that often less is more……

May love, peace and joy fill your hearts and keep you warm….love to you all Laural….

Samhain/Halloween


October is named after the Greek word “Octo” meaning “eight”. The number eight is also the infinity symbol. This symbol is created by twisting a circle in half revealing an infinite path between two worlds.

infinity-symbol

Samhain – Oct 31st – Summers end. The evening/dusk of Oct 31st is marked by the thinning of the veils between day and night allowing for souls to reconnect and wishes to be heard before the great darkness of winter sets in. The Celts like the ancient Chinese Taoists honored the harmonious yet opposing forces of dark and light, night and day, cold and heat, death and life. The year was divided into two seasons: the light and the dark. They celebrated the light on May 1st (Beltane) and the dark beginning at dusk on October 31st (Samhain).

Many cultures begin their day when the sun sets and the moon rises. They honor time as proceeding from dark to light, understanding that in the silent darkness life prepares itself for new beginnings.

To the Celts of ancient Europe the evening was the most important part of the celebration. This was a time to gather the best of the autumn harvest, feast and create a village bonfire. A member of each family would light a torch from the bonfire and bring it to their home to light the hearth that night. This act created a bond within the village that neighbors would help each other get through the winter. Food and drink was set out in front of each home to welcome deceased ancestors with great ceremony as windows, doors, and gates were left unlocked to give them free passage. Apples were eaten in honor of the “Paradise of Apples,” where spirits of the nether world ate the sacred fruit and enjoyed blissful immortality. Celts carved the images of spirit-guardians onto turnips, pumpkins and gourds, which later became known as “jack o’lanterns”, setting them outside their doors to keep away any unwelcome spirits.

With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year. The eve of Samhain is popularly known as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, when children dress up in costume and go to neighborhood homes for “trick or treating”.

Samhain also celebrates the marriages of Dagda, the Celtic God of Earth with Morrigan, the triple Goddess of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction.  They give birth to Brighid the Goddess of Purification who brings the prophecy of light for the coming of Beltane the Goddess of Life and Fertility. Together Samhain and Beltane represent the two great doorways of the year and the cycle of Death, Rebirth, Birth and Life. Samhain marks the beginning of the year as people enter the darkness to listen within and set intentions for the upcoming planting season.

Chant for Samhain – A year of beauty. A year of plenty. A year of planting. A year of harvest.
 A year of forests. A year of healing. A year of vision. A year of passion. 
A year of rebirth. This year may we renew the earth.
 Let it begin with each step we take. Let it begin with each change we make.
Let it begin with each chain we break. And let it begin every time we awake.

Autumnal Equinox


Autumnal Equinox – Sept 22nd – 2014

A time to release – The Autumnal Equinox is a time of inner reflection and preparation, of going within and reflecting on where you are. Traditionally, the fall equinox is seen as “Natures Thanksgiving” with apples being a symbol of female energy and nuts being the male energy.  In the great cycle of life this is the season that celebrates the death of the year as trees release their leaves.  It is a time to harvest what you need and shed what does not serve you. In Celtic tradition this celebration is called Mabon.

Connect with the season by internalizing the oranges, yellows, and reds of the surrounding trees and ask yourself, “What about me has changed in the past year?  What am I willing to give up so that I may come back in the new year as full of life as the new spring around me?  Release what you must to prepare for the upcoming season of rebirth that begins on the Winter Solstice.  In between you will honor your ancestors on Samhain.

The autumnal equinox occurs when the Sun crosses the celestial equator from the northern half of the sky to the southern half of the sky. Consequently, daytime and nighttime are both about 12 hours long. The Sun rises due east and sets due west on the equinox date.  In the southern hemisphere seasons are reversed. So, the September equinox actually marks the beginning of spring.

The Equinox reminds us to come into balance with ourselves and our world.

A guided meditation: To help you release and receive

Find an area with trees who’s leaves are changing. Sit comfortably on the ground and  close your eyes. Feel the ground become softer beneath you as you sink into the grass.  Deeply breathe in the crisp, clean air, the smell of drying grasses, the harvesting of the hay and apples.  As you visualize the delights of autumn, slowly begin to reflect on what the past year has brought you: new beginnings, endings, miracles and opportunities.  Allow yourself to release those thoughts that no longer serve you.  Visualize placing them one by one into your left palm.  Accept them as insights from your life this past year.  Without them, would you have grown as much?  See the value in the lessons they brought you.  Allow them to float out of your hand and be carried away on the wind.  Feeling the sun on your face and the warmth it brings, begin to imagine all of the abundance that has come to you in the past year.  Each gift, smile, kind word and deed, love, and the bounty of mother earth has provided you.  Silently relive the happiness of each one as you imagine slipping them into the palm of your right hand.  Allow them to float out of your hand and be carried away on the wind.  Feel the warmth of gratitude flowing through you from the top of your head and into your toes.  Breathe in and out with gratitude.  Stay here for as long as you wish and then begin to slowly open your eyes to the world around you.  Stand up and allow yourself to feel like a tree.  Imagine roots growing from the base of your feet deep into the earth.  Raise your arms to the sky and wave them in the wind as if they were branches.  Feel the strength of your core body as if it were the trunk.  Stand in this pose as long as you are comfortable and breathe in the balancing beauty of life.  Thank all that is around you for holding space for you to connect within….

Enjoy this sacred week of harvesting and releasing with gratitude and balance….

“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.  – Edwin Way Teale –

December


December gets its name from the latin word for “ten” decem.

It was originally the tenth month in the “Romulus” calendar created around 800 BCE.

Winter Solstice Trees

The Winter Solstice on December 21st – 22nd is symbolic of inner peace.  It is also both the shortest and darkest day of the year. It heralds the time when the sun is reborn, gradually growing in strength til the Midsummer Solstice on June 21st.

To Northern Europeans the Winter Solstice was known as Yule, a celebration that lasted for twelve days. Yule trees were cut and decorated with images of wishes for the year ahead. A Yule log was burned and a portion of it saved to be used for protection of the home.

One of the prominent early Gods of the Winter Solstice is the God Mithras. His origins date back over 4000 years or more.

Mitra (circa 1700–1100 BC) is also seen as one of the ancient Hindu Gods of the Rigveda. Paired with the God Varuna, Mitra/Varuna are seen as the Devas who bring balance to the world. Varuna represents the God of the cosmic night sky (Moon) , Mitra represents the dawning of the solar day (Sun). Together they bring light, life, order and truth to the world.

Mithra (circa 1000 BC) is also one of the Persian Zoroastrian/Iranian Gods of Truth.

Mithra (circa 600 BC) was also known as the Sumerian/Chaldean trinity of Anu/El (God of the Sky), Enki/Bel/Baal (Son of Anu/El) and Enlil/Hea (God of Wisdom), sometimes referred to as Ad (Adonai, Adonis or Lord) .

With the creation of the Julian Calendar in 46 BC, the Winter Solstice officially fell on December 25th.

In Roman culture (circa 200 BC – 313 AD) Saturnalia (Saturn is the Roman God of Agriculture) began on December 17th and lasted for seven days culminating on December 25th the Winter Solstice.  On that day Mithras the Sun God or Sol Invictus (the invincible sun) was born. The Emperor Constantine saw himself as the Sol Invictus before converting to Christianity in 313 AD. This celebration was marked with wreaths on doors, gifting and feasting.

Early Christians didn’t have records of Jesus actual birthday so they chose the Winter Solstice as the perfect day to celebrate it. They saw it as both the rebirth of the “Son” & the “Sun”. Since Jesus taught that the “light” was within each of us, his followers wanted to honor his birth on a day that honored the “light within”. The Winter Solstice was the perfect time to honor that sacred connection.

When Pope Gregory the VIII, adjusted the calendar in 1582AD, the Sun had changed in relation to the actual days so the Winter Solstice was moved to either December 21st or 22nd. Pope Gregory chose to keep Jesus birthday on December 25th as a way to separate the “pagan” holiday from the “Christian” holiday. This severed our sacred connection to the Winter Solstice and the “light” we share with nature. People began to feel separate from the beauty and harmony nature great cycles of life provides.  The word pagan itself means “to be from nature”.

“Holidays” are “Holy Days” and the Winter Solstice is a “Holy Day”.  It is also natures “Holly Day” for Holly is symbolic of truth and the concept of being forever green/alive. Holly is an evergreen that is used to make wreaths for celebrating the sacred circle of life and natures cycle through the seasons.