Our ancient ancestors celebrated Yule, and when Christianity was introduced the church opted for this time of year to celebrate Christmas, with many of the Yule traditions and practices absorbed into Christmas festivities. We can hear echoes of pagan songs in Christmas carols, and just like our ancestors we light candles and fires, decorate our homes with evergreen plants, feast, dance, and give gifts. Whatever your religious background, Winter Solstice offers a perfect opportunity to get together with family and reflect on the year that has gone and the year to come. If your family have different religious beliefs, Winter Solstice is a good chance to be together and celebrate a non-denominational festival, a time of gratitude for Nature’s cycles.
Solstice means ‘sun stand still’, and this is the time when the sun seems to halt in the sky. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of year, and Yule is connected to the joy at the birth of the Sun God, child of the Goddess. It is a celebration of rebirth. This is the turning point of the year, when the days gradually become longer and the darkness of winter is overcome. It is easy to understand why our ancestors held Solstice in such reverence. Their lives were governed by the sun, and the promise of its return would, of course, be sacred. Today, our relationship with the natural world has much less of an impact on our everyday lives; in fact, 21st century people can, and do, forget the world outside their window.
European Origins of Yule: In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millennia. The Norse peoples, who called it Jul, viewed it as a time for much feasting and merrymaking. In addition, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, this was a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.
The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known today about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.
Welcoming the Sun Through the Ages: Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Ra, the god of the Sun. As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death, and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.
Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshiping a new holiday celebrated on December 25, although scholars believe it is more likely that Jesus was born around April rather than in the winter.
In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.
Hence, we can see much similarities is shared with Chinese Metaphysics use and celebration of Winter Solstice, 冬至一阳生. The commencement of 奇门遁甲 (QMDJ) chart and cycle also comes at arrival of winter solstice. In Feng Shui (Date Selection), the Winter Solstice has auspicious energy to commence renovation works in afflicted sectors of the house. We call this “太阳到山, 太阳到向”. For example, this period is most favourable for houses / apartments sitting on sector of Ox. “坐丑：冬至到山，夏至到向”; incidently, The Wiccian Practitioners also make use of this special season energy for space cleansing and magick rituals.