The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas

Finally, a real journey into the magical sources and traditions of Christmas, from the greatest of contemporary Celtic scholars and gentlemen. It’s The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews, published by Quest. A luscious large-format paperback, beautifully illustrated in colour, and brimming with folklore, stories, guided visualizations and meditations, recipes, games, activities, decorating ideas, songs, and other resources, A Winter Solstice will definitely help families who are “burned out” on Christmas to create alternative, less wasteful, more satisfying traditions more in keeping with the heart-warming spirit of the original Winter Solstice festivals

Matthews provides delightful explorations into the surprising multicultural origins of Santa Claus, holly, the Yule Log, caroling, mistletoe, the Christmas evergreen and much more. Additional sections on “Saturn and the Dragons of the Solstice: A Mystery,” “The Sun in the Greenwood: A Ritual,” the traditions around each of the 12 days of Christmas, “Old Sir Christmas,” “The Green Bough,” and “The Solstice Animals” help bring together the full spectrum of Christmas past and present, including both familiar Christian symbolism and earlier pre-Christian traditions associated with the midwinter festival. Couples from different religious backgrounds, followers of Eastern traditions, and Christians who wish to restore the original meaning of Christmas—and of the whole winter season—will find inspiration as well as practical direction in this glorious book. 

“There is a moment of silence that occurs every year, somewhere between the dawn of Christmas Eve and the setting of the sun on Christmas Day itself—a moment we have all experienced at least once in our lives, maybe more than once. It can silence a great city like London or New York, and it can bring stillness to our hearts, whoever and wherever we may be. That moment is unlike any other. It offers the promise of new beginnings, of the clean slate of a new year, and it incorporates the breathless expectancy of Christmas night itself, when a familiar figure enters our lives and changes them briefly. It is a moment such as this that lies at the heart of the Midwinter Solstice, and it is in celebration of this that this book is written.”

John Matthews
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