Druid King Arthur Pendragon at Stonehenge in 2009

Druid King Arthur Pendragon at Stonehenge in 2009

Pagans Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

Now that Christmas is right around the corner, Britain is gearing up for the year’s most-awaited holiday. While Christians are getting ready to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, religious nones are simply awaiting the season of fun and feasting. However, another set of British are waiting for Christmas for another reason altogether – to celebrate the winter solstice.

Pagans and practitioners of Pantheistic traditions will be gathering at the Stonehenge this year to celebrate the winter solstice. This year, the festival – also called Yule – will fall on the 21st of December. The solstice marks the longest nights and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The day is special because after the day of solstice, the days start getting longer until springtime. This is symbolic of the sun’s rebirth, which in turn symbolizes fertility and the earth’s restoration to life after the cold of winter. The festival honors the cycle of life and death.

Today, Stonehenge is one of the oldest living links to ancient traditions. Dating back more than 4,500 years, this World Heritage Site is now the center for Britain’s modern pagan, Druid and spiritual movement. Although the monument is shrouded in mystery and nobody really knows who exactly built it and why, the fact remains that it is situated on a site that was once used for esoteric rituals. For the modern spiritual-seekers, there couldn’t be a more powerful link to their spiritual roots.

Whatever reason that Stonehenge may have been built for, the builders definitely had the solstices in mind. This is evident form the fact that the sunrise and sunset on the solstices align perfectly with the massive structure. Visitors throng at the site before sunrise to witness this event. The day is marked by continuous celebrations and revelry.

Christian protestors are accusing Christians of stealing a pagan festival and recasting it is as the birth of Jesus Christ. Winter solstice used to be celebrated around the same time as Christmas in pre-Christian Rome, and the festival is said to have been adopted by the Church after the conversion of Rome.

Druid leader and activist King Arthur Pendragon too reflects on the similarity of the message between the two festivals. In an interview with BBC, Pendragon said that the message of Yule is the same as Christmas – the celebration of hope and change.

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