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Thursday, December 21, is the first day of Winter. The winter solstice is the time of year when the sun reaches its lowest point in the sky, and our days are the shortest.

In the Western hemisphere, the winter solstice was celebrated as early as the Stone Age, by pagan people living in the British Isles. Pagan means 'lives in the country.'

There are structures still standing in Newgrange in Ireland, Maeshowe in Scotland, and Stonehenge in England which researchers believe served as bridges between the physical world and the divine realm.

Newgrange, for instance, is believed to have been a site for important religious ceremonies, associated with the cycles of life, death, and rebirth.

It is engineered so that, on or near
the shortest day of the year, in the early morning, a beam of sunlight will shine into a hole in the roof and travel 19 meters along a tunnel into the burial chamber.

Yule is one of the oldest pagan winter solstice holidays. It has been celebrated for thousands of years by various cultures, with a wide variety of rituals and traditions. One tradition is the Yule Tree. Many of us call it a Christmas Tree.

Whatever you call it, or how you celebrate this shortest day of the year, the Solstice, we celebrate light out of darkness, familiar patterns, and the hope of returning light and life. Lastly, Yule is a wonderful time to celebrate peace.

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