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Cool Winter Solstice Traditions Across The Globe

Here are some traditions you may not be aware of.

December is a time of many celebrations around the world. However, many may not be aware of winter solstice traditions. Winter solstice is the one day in the year with the shortest amount of sunlight. Many cultures around the world have unique traditions to celebrate the longest night of the year. Here are some fascinating winter solstice traditions across the globe you may not be aware of.

Stonehenge gathering in England

Why the ancient circle of Stonehenge was built remains a mystery. However, everyone agrees that it lines up perfectly with the movements of the sun. Some experts believe winter solstice festivals took place in this mysterious spot. Today, many people gather at dawn the day after the longest night of the year to watch the occurrence of the sun rising through the stones. Oftentimes, on this particular day, visitors can get closer to the stones for this sacred celebration.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival in Vancouver

Vancouver’s Secret Lantern Society created the city’s Solstice Lantern Festival to honour the various cultures celebrating winter solstice tradition. People walk in a procession throughout the city on the night of the solstice. People can also check out the Labyrinth of Light, which is a maze of 600 candles.

Dongzhi in China

This age-old tradition is celebrated anywhere between December 21 and 23. For thousands of years, families in China gather together and have a big meal. Even though this festival marks the end of the harvest season, this holiday also incorporates the concept of yin and yang. When the winter solstice comes to end, the winter darkness will eventually be balanced out with the sun’s light.

Saint Lucia Day in Scandinavia

Like many of the modern celebrations that we celebrated today, ancient festivals that had a tradition to celebrate the winter solstice combined it with newer traditions to create the holiday season that we celebrate today. Take for example Saint Lucia Day, also known as Saint Lucy’s Day, in Scandinavia, which is on December 13. It also marks the beginning of the Christmas season. To celebrate this, young women in white robes and red sashes walk in a procession with wreaths made of candles on their heads, which light the way through the darkness of winter.  This tradition also incorporates pagan winter solstice celebrations, which is marked by bonfires. For the occasion, glogg, gingersnaps, are saffron-flavoured buns are served.

Darielle Britto

Darielle Britto has been in the world of journalism since 2014 — covering everything from breaking news to lifestyle for some of India's top publications. Currently, she focuses on all things food, fashion, travel, home, health, design and offbeat.
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