Why Do Holidays Fall Around The Winter Solstice?

Why Do Holidays Fall Around The Winter Solstice?

In 2015, December 22 will mark the exact mid-point
of winter in the Northern Hemisphere—the shortest day and longest night of the year.
This is the Winter Solstice, and for many, conjures images of pine trees, decorated wreaths,
and burning Yule logs. But while that may sound like Christmas, as a matter of fact,
nearly all Christmas traditions are borrowed from other celebrations. Different cultures
have been celebrating the solstice for over 5,000 years. So, Why Do Holidays Fall Around
The Winter Solstice? Well, the term solstice literally means ‘sun
stands still.’ As far back as 3,000 BC, Neolithic people erected sculptures and architecture
to frame this type of solar alignment. Scholars believe that these solstice sculptures had
a religious significance, and that sites in Europe like Newgrange and Stonehenge were
meant for worship. We also know that the Romans famously celebrated
an occasion they called Saturnalia, which marked the mid-point of winter with a debaucherous
seven day festival. In Iran, the festival of Yalda also takes place on the solstice,
and dates back to the pre-Islamic religion of Zoroastrianism, which itself dates back
to around 600 BC. Like Christmas, Yalda celebrates the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light.
In fact, the word Yalda means “birth”. Many winter solstice festivals are focused
on the idea of birth or rebirth. Some have suggested that these celebrations also served
the purpose of keeping a large group of people awake on the darkest, and arguably, most dangerous
night of the year. Within the Buddhist tradition, the solstice
is a day of celebrating the daughter of a pre-Christian Indian Emperor. The festival,
known as “Sanghamitta Day”, is considered a major holiday for modern Buddhists. And
in Chinese and other East Asian cultures, the solstice is one of the most important
celebrations, called the Donghzi Festival. So where do our Christmas traditions come
from? Well, historical records show that the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe also celebrated
the winter solstice in a form called Yule [you’ll]. The Christmas tree, pine wreath
and Yule log all derive from the pagan Yule festival, all predating the Christian symbols
of the winter solstice. But as Christianity grew from a cult into a mass religion, pagan
traditions were adapted to make the burgeoning movement seem more familiar to early Christian
converts. Despite Christmas’s stranglehold on winter
solstice holidays, it is actually one of many ongoing holidays. Like other portions of the
Christian religion, the basics are mostly borrowed from long standing traditions. So
this holiday season, instead of saying “Merry Christmas”, why not wish everyone a “Super
Saturnalia!” Many pagan traditions revolve around nature,
but the umbrella of pagan religions is more diverse than you’d think. Learn more about
their beliefs in our video. Thanks for checking out our channel!
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49 thoughts on “Why Do Holidays Fall Around The Winter Solstice?

  1. In Roman culture, a holiday was celebrated on the 25th of December honoring the god Mithras for those part of his cult and another holiday was celebrated for Sol Invictus the god of the sun. Since Christianity was outlawed in looked down upon during this time, many Christians began to hide the celebration for Jesus's birthday by coinciding it with the festival celebrating Mithra and/or Sol Invictus. Learned this during latin class the other day.

  2. Because of fear they basically did everything by the sun, it was their god. Whole lives revolved around the seasons. You worked the rest of the year to survive winter.

  3. Some of the information in the video is wrong and "Instead of saying merry Christmas why not wish everyone a Super Saturnalia"? Right… It's like your promoting something in here. It's like you're spreading your way of thinking to everyone. Anyway happy holidays!

  4. I counted all the holy days and occasions I could find between Advent Sunday and Twelfth Night, (the 12th day of Christmas, which always falls on January 5th), and threw in Orthodox Christmas and New Year for good measure. I found forty six! …but I missed Yalda, so make it forty seven. (It varies year-to-year because some religions use a lunar calendar, which doesn't correspond with our 365.25-day year.)

  5. What's the difference between a religion and a cult?

    In a cult there is a person at the top who knows its a scam, in a religion that person is dead.

  6. No mention of Sol Invictus? Sol Invictus ("the unconquered sun") was the official sun god of the late Roman empire. His birthday festival ("dies natalis Solis Invicti") was on December 25th, when the sun symbolically rises from death with the longing of days. This was during the same time that Christianity became popular in the empire, and Sol Invictus is also where early Christian artists took Jesus' radiant solar crown (the "fulgens corona") from.

  7. There can be many, many reasons, including the fact that during the winter, agricultural yields are generally low, resulting in the stocking and sheltering of resources over the month, which just increases the frequency of social interactions.

    Or perhaps, they are celebrating their safety.

    There's a legend to this, but you wouldn't want to hear it, because it's from ancient China.

  8. duhh!maybe it is because christians stole everything they could not kill.why are catholics not ashamed,read a history book,the albigensian crusade,torquemada,the riches and corruption of the papal state,the crusades,raping children.may the pope drown in his own filth.the world will never change as long as humans tolerate any religion.

  9. cuz zietgiest said the thing with the 3 stars aligning to point at where the sun rose….signaling the beginning of something great……I think lebron james was born on xmas…..and mandela….then ghandi….yeah…that's ordered right…..I'm gonna order some pizza…..and watch ninja turtles…..but yeah….Festivus.

  10. Pre-Christian Indian emperor? You are aware that India has never been Christian, right? It's like saying "Julius Cesar was a pre-Sikhi emperor"

  11. Christians expanded and took Christmas from the places they expanded to? sort of.ย  Saturnalia: Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. The Church 'Christianised' it. Now it is the Birthday of the Unconquerable Son. Anyways, in the land down under, you get the longest days rather then the shortest.

  12. Winter is a silent and darkest time of the year. When there is no greenery and everything seems dead. Like wise spiritually, when human was in sin and darkness and dead in sin. Jesus The Messiah came, The Light of The World,. John 8:12.The Way The Truth And The Life. John 14:6. And set human free from sin and darkness. For God so loved the world, That He gave His only Son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting Life. John 3:16.

  13. the Book of Jeremiah chapter 10.. (True christians do not celebrate Chrismas.)

    Jeremiah 10English Standard Version (ESV)

    Idols and the Living God
    10 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:

    โ€œLearn not the way of the nations,
    nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
    because the nations are dismayed at them,
    3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity.[a]
    A tree from the forest is cut down
    and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
    4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so that it cannot move.
    5 Their idols[b] are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
    and they cannot speak;
    they have to be carried,
    for they cannot walk.
    Do not be afraid of them,
    for they cannot do evil,
    neither is it in them to do good.โ€
    6 There is none like you, O Lord;
    you are great, and your name is great in might.
    7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
    For this is your due;
    for among all the wise ones of the nations
    and in all their kingdoms
    there is none like you.

  14. A lot of Christians watched this and still didnโ€™t realize that their Christmas story was adopted from other stories and is also about astrology. The star (sun) that the THREE wise men followed for three days.

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