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December 21
December 21

December twenty-first, the Winter Solstice. (The point along the Earth’s annual solar orbit when the northern hemisphere is at its furthest point from the sun). The last harvest of the year is celebrated shortly before the Winter Solstice. In ancient times people would feast knowing the months ahead would be dark, hungry times when sickness spread quickly. The cycle of winter’s death forever yielding new life in spring’s rebirth is represented by the ouroboros symbol showing a serpent consuming its own tail. (The word's origins are Greek: oura, meaning "tail" and boros meaning "eating," form "he who eats the tail.")

About the Author

  • Ralph is one of the creators of the Montessori-inspired curriculum Spirit Play, which is used by hundreds of UU churches across the us and canada. As an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister of Religious Education, Ralph led what had been one of the largest children and youth...

Comments (2) (Open)

Helen 3 years 6 months ago

Also with friendly cheer, it should be "its" rather than "it's". Feasting has always been an important part of the season, both in celebration and in anticipation of food shortage, but I'm not sure in which climate there would be a final harvest "shortly before" winter solstice.  Folklorically, "final harvest" was celebrated at Samhain ("summer's end"), at the beginning of November just before the first hard frost.  Happy to see mention of the prechristian holidays, though!

ehewitt 3 years 6 months ago

Hi Helen,

Thanks for your comments. The typo has been fixed, and you're right about Samhain. I'll be sure to forward your correction to Ralph Roberts so that next year we reflect the pagan/earth-based calendar more accurately!

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