Three days in Decemeber when it was said that the sun stands still (Latin: Sol = Sun, Sistere = to stand still). The day in the middle is usually the 21st Dec and officially the winter solstice. The stand still is due to the Earth’s tilt when it rotates and orbits the sun. As we look at the horizon the sun is at its lowest ebb barely making it light and warm during the day, and for those countries in or close to the Artic circle the sun doesn’t feature at all giving them the phenomena known as the polar night. On the same day in the southern hemisphere, naturally, they have their summer solstice and longest day and in the antartic circle the phenomena known as the midnight sun.
At the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere the Oak King takes over from his brother the Holly King, until the summer solstice (21 Jun). Whilst in the southern hemisphere today, it is the Holly King that takes over from the Oak King. Each having a reign when they are at their most vibrant and full of life. Holly decorations were used to honour the King as he reliquishes his reign in the north, the red berries, which ripen at this time of year, are a reminder of the warmth and light returning to the land. Holly was also used for the Roman mid-winter festival Saturnalia and it later became part of Christmas decorations too.
For us all down at the farm with animals on the land, we have been counting down the days to this one. We still have weather warnings in place as the rain continues and places, including the farm, get flooded, but we can now we look forward to the days getting longer as the sun begins to rise higher on the horizon once again.
Jac’s coat, which has grown since the summer solstice, and has been amazing at keeping him warm and dry, will now begin to react to the daylight changes and the shedding of his coat will begin as we head towards the summer solstice.
Happy Winter Solstice!