Rituals and traditions can keep us happy. Psychology Today talks about the ‘comfort of ritual’. With all the differing beliefs around, it can be difficult to re-capture holidays past, and to maintain what we feel is meaningful about the season.
Some say that while times change, it can be soothing to take comfort in the small things: things like going to hear Christmas music, attending the yearly Christmas pageant, gathering for family meals, lighting candles, and sharing cards and gifts.
And that’s just what people were doing during a sunrise at Stonehenge, today.
A ritual that has been going on for thousands of years was shared by around 5000 people who traveled to the prehistoric monument to celebrate the annual winter solstice.
The winter solstice marks the point in the year when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun in the northern hemisphere. It marks the darkest day of the year, and the point at which daylight hours start to become longer again symbolizing the return of hope.
Typically, the shortest day of the year falls on December 21st, but this year the druid and pagan community chose to celebrate the solstice one day later.
According to a report on bbc.com, this is due to the fact that the Gregorian calendar of 365 days a year – with an extra day every four years (leap year) – does not correspond exactly to the solar year, which consists of 365.2422 days.
Those who came to celebrate amidst the great stones wore regular clothing and also druid and animal costumes.
While it remains a mystery what purpose the believed 4,500 years old Stonehenge was originally constructed for, it has been named a World Heritage site known for its alignment with the movements of the sun. A perfect place to honor the return of longer days.