Short­est day of the year

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS/PEOPLE -

JUNE 21 is of­fi­cially the dark­est day of the year for 2018, and if pa­gan rit­u­als are your thing then this is a big deal.

Also known as mid­win­ter, the sol­stice is an as­tro­nom­i­cal phe­nom­e­non which has long held cultural sig­nif­i­cance.

Of­ten used as a marker for cel­e­bra­tions of re­birth, fes­ti­vals and rit­u­als, the win­ter sol­stice is also thought to be the rea­son Stone­henge was orig­i­nally built some 5000 years ago.

It is thought that the struc­ture is used to mark sol­stices and equinoxes, be­cause it is di­rectly aligned to­ward the sun­set dur­ing the win­ter sol­stice.

Dur­ing the sum­mer sol­stice, the long­est day of the year, the sun rises di­rectly over the Hell Stone.

In years gone by, the win­ter sol­stice was of­ten known as a time to make an­i­mal sac­ri­fices – al­though this has been in­ter­preted as a pa­gan rit­ual, it is likely the prac­tice first be­gan as a marker for farm­ers to slaugh­ter live­stock that they did not want to feed through the cold win­ter months.

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