So, what will you be doing to celebrate this winter solstice? Will you be soaking your body in a hot bath surrounded by yuzu citrus fruit bobbing up and down like they do in Japan, or dressing up as half-demon, half-goat Krampuses like they do in Austria? Boo!
Not your cup of tea, or in our case on the Peninsula, glass of wine?
The southern hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs at 1.54am on Saturday, June 22. People have been celebrating this mid-winter wonder for thousands of years when the day is so short you can blink your eyes to the morning light upon rising, then blink again and the dark has arrived with disarming speed. The solstice itself doesn’t last very long but cultures throughout the ages have been marking the shortest day of the year with festivals, fires, feasting and generally getting together and having a blast for ever. After all, it marks a time when the days begin to stretch their sunny legs and grow longer again, while the dark cloak of night rolls itself up to welcome shorter spurts of moonshine.
Whether you’re preparing to bathe in holy water like they do in India or are setting up a Yule altar in preparation to perform a pagan ritual to welcome the re-birth of the sun, there are no hard and fast rules to celebrating the winter solstice. Yes, the southern hemisphere will be directly titled away from the sun, which is impressive, but none of this really means we should get together and party. It’s just that ritual and celebration go hand in hand for all peoples who walk this land and have done so for a very long time. The Wurdi Youang rock formation at Mount Rothwell in Victoria is thought to have been used by Indigenous peoples to mark solstices thousands of years ago.
Happy winter solstice. The sun, she’s coming.