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The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice, or Yule, carries deep meaning in the Celtic traditions. It is associated with rebirth, the dying of the old and the making way for new. This ancient festival takes place today. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year.

The date of the winter solstice varies from year to year, and can fall anywhere between December 20 and December 23.

Stonehenge lines up with the winter solstice sunrise. Some say that the position of the Sun was of religious significance to the people who built Stonehenge, thousands will gather there to celebrate the solstice.

Colours associated with Yule are red, green, silver, gold and white. Plants and herbs include holly, evergreens, nutmeg, mistletoe, frankincense, myrrh, rosemary and sage. Stones are emerald, bloodstone, diamond and ruby.

Evergreens represent everlasting life and were traditionally hung around doorways.

Mistletoe was greatly revered by the Druids as a healer and protector. It is carefully cut to ensure it never touches the earth. It's magical properties are believed to be connected to the fact that it lives between the worlds, between sky and earth.

Holly spikes are believed to repel unwanted spirits. Newborn babies used to be sprinkled with 'holly water', water in which holly had been soaked.

Ivy is a symbol of immortality and resurrection, growing in a spiral reminding us of reincarnation and rebirth.

Yew is the tree of rebirth - it sends up new trees from its roots and grows to be a very great age. It is deeply connected with the spirit realms and the ancestors.

Pine brings healing and joy and helps to purify the home.

The Pagan calendar consists of Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lamma, Mabon and Samhain.

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