Today, the shortest day of the year, is Yule, celebrated by pagans since long before the Christian Christmas. This year it coincided with a full moon, which looked particularly spectacular in my part of the world as it shone on a snow covered Europe. There was also a lunar eclipse last night, but it was not visible in all parts of the world. The last total eclipse during the winter solstice was in 1638, so it was truly a once in a lifetime event.
This morning the dawn at Newgrange, was broadcast live on Irish Television. Newgrange, claimed by some to be the oldest building in the world, was built over 5,000 years ago, just north of Dublin. It was constructed so that shortly after dawn on the Solstice, the sun shines directly into the inner chamber. This evening it will be the turn of Stonehenge. The main focus of Stonehenge, built about 1,000 years after Newgrange, seems to be the solstice sunset, as viewed through the arches of the Great Trilithon.
This year is especially a happy Yule for pagan prisoners in the UK, as their religion has now been recognised and prison governors have been issued with a list of the 8 main pagan holidays, including Yule. The prisoners may choose to celebrate 4 of these and may also keep tarot cards, a hoodless robe and a wand in their cell.
Happy Yuletide to all. Look forward to longer days.