Bonfires, Wine, Cake & the Sun Standing Still

No one is probably surprised to hear that the winter solstice was a time of merriment in Ancient Greece. After all, to this day, in Greece there is always some sort of celebration, let alone those ancient times when even philosophizing involved drinking.

But who would have thought that the winter solstice celebration was in honor of Poseidon, the god of the sea?

In Athens, and other parts of Ancient Greece, there was a month that corresponded to our December/January that was named Poseideon. Think about it… It makes perfect sense that the time chosen for his festival would coincide with the season the Greeks were least likely to set sail. 🙂

The winter solstice festival of Poseidon was celebrated in Athens and other cities of ancient Greece with large bonfires and a lot of wine and cake. Large bonfires and a lot of wine and cake you are wondering? Of course! Both activities were related to the failing sun. The large bonfires, symbolizing the creation of light and the wine and cake symbolizing the enjoyment of the cover that the darkness can provide.

Legend has it that the popularity of the Poseidonia on the island of Aegina (where we hold many of our trainings) was so high that they were extended to two months long.

In every culture, solstices are important ritualistic days designed to celebrate the changing of the seasons and a new energy. In fact, solstice in Latin means “the sun stands still”. The Sun standing still is a metaphor for the day the Sun appears to reverse direction and a new solar cycle begins.

Astronomically, the solstice happens twice a year when the tilt of the earth’s axis is most inclined toward or away from the sun causing the sun’s apparent position in the sky to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme.

For those in the northern hemisphere the winter solstice is the day of the shortest period of daylight, known as the darkest day of the year. It is the time of the year that we have the opportunity to remember, reflect upon and study deep into our soul. We may not like everything that we find, but that is perfectly fine as long as we decide to own it. Only then, we shall find the strength to change it.

Whether it is the candlelight, a bonfire, a journal, or wine and cake that we choose, taking responsibility, exercising our ability to respond to the darkest elements of our soul, will help us move on to a richer human experience.

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