The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the Winter Solstice lasts only an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used as Midwinter or contrastingly the first day of winter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this is the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun‘s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs around December 21 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and June 20 in the Southern Hemisphere.
Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.
In the Aegean civilizations, the exclusively female midwinter ritual, Lenaea or Lenaia, was the Festival of the Wild Women. In the forest, a man or bull representing the god Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten by Maenads. Later in the ritual a baby, representing Dionysus reborn, was presented. Lenaion, the first month of the Delian calendar, derived its name from the festival’s name. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by that of a goat, and the women’s role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth. Wine miracles were performed by the priests, in which priests would seal water or juice in a room overnight and the next day they would have turned into wine. The miracle was said to have been performed by Dionysus and the Lenaians. By the 5th century BC the ritual had become a Gamelion festival for theatrical competitions, often held in Athens in the Lenaion theater. The festival influenced the ancient Roman Brumalia. [source: Wikipedia]
Anyway, whatever it is you are celebrating in your part of the world, we wish you a great time. Yvonne and I will do our usual escapist routine, explore the country side, hope to stumble upon a warm hearth fire here and there, find some honest good food and ditto drinks, and generally stay away from any flashing lights and loud commercials for 3-4 days. We plan to return to “civilization” around the 28th.