I have often wondered if the Winter Solstice is December 21, why do we celebrate Christmas on the 25th?Why did the Christians wait for four days before having the big party? The answer is simple – seems our ancient friends were rather cautious. Yes, December 21 is the longest night of the year – but it is the next day when the day grows just a wee bit longer and a little longer the next and so on. They wanted to be darned sure that Sun was indeed returning before getting out the party hats and horns (or reasonable facsimile thereof.)
But the day December 25 was long a day of celebration in the pagan world – a day to celebrate the return of the Sun or son. The Christians didn’t have to look far for a holiday to co-opt on December 25. It was the day that Attis, the Roman son of the virgin Nana who was later sacrificed to bring salvation by being crucified on a tree and then arising three days later, was born.
The Greek god, Dionysus son of Zeus, whose body was symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine, was also celebrated on December 25. The Egyptians placed December 25 as the birth day of Osiris, the savior-god who was resurrected by his wife and then reined over the after world. The Persians, also happy that the Sun was proving itself back to stay, celebrated the birth of Mithra, a savior who performed miracles, cured the ill and ascended into heaven in the Spring.
So go ahead celebrate the Solstice and then 4 days later the return of the Sun – or son – if you prefer. In either case, you will be carrying on a tradition that predates the current Christian incarnation by about 6000 – 8000 years. It is a great way to link yourself to nature and our collective roots.
The Sun, ruler of Leo, is at its Zenith in August – the time of Leo — but it is the cycle of waxing and waning that we celebrate in the depths of cold winter. Rejoice for the Sun (son) has returned!