December 23, 2022 — The winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. To coincide with the event, we are pleased to let you know our newest track ‘Hróðvitnir: Solstice Solasvartr’ has been released, with its lyrics taking a stab at Fenris to ensure the light will return.

The yearly solar event has been celebrated by cultures in the circumpolar north for thousands of years. Many indigenous peoples, including the Norse, Gothic, and Danish tribes, had traditions and rituals centered around the solstice, often involving fire to symbolize the sun’s return.

The connection between Fenris, the giant wolf of Norse mythology who is said to swallow the sun at Ragnarök, and the winter solstice may be seen in the way that the wolf represents darkness, and the solstice marks the longest night of the year. The winter solstice also marks the start of the sun’s return and the gradual lengthening of the days, similar to how Fenris is eventually defeated and the sun is allowed to continue its journey.

In Norse culture, the winter solstice was a time of celebration known as Yule. It was believed that the god Freyr, associated with fertility and prosperity, would bring back sunlight and warmth during this time. Freyr’s boar, Gullinbursti, was also associated with the winter solstice and its return of the sun. The mythology surrounding Fenris and the winter solstice may reflect the struggle between light and darkness and the sun’s enduring power to overcome winter’s darkness.

The winter solstice is also closely connected to the modern holiday of Christmas, which has its roots in the Yule celebrations of Norse and other European cultures. Many aspects of Yuletide have survived and are still celebrated in modern-day traditions. Some elements still evident in modern celebrations include:

  • The use of evergreen trees and decorations: In ancient Norse culture, evergreen trees were seen as symbols of life and renewal and were often used as decorations during Yuletide. This tradition has carried over to modern Christmas celebrations, with many people decorating trees with ornaments and lights.
  • Feasting and drinking: During Yuletide, the Norse would hold feasts and celebrations that involved eating and drinking. This tradition has also survived in modern Christmas celebrations, with many people hosting feasts and gatherings with friends and family.
  • Gift-giving: In ancient Norse culture, it was traditional to exchange gifts during Yuletide to show friendship and goodwill. This tradition has also carried over to modern Christmas celebrations, with many people giving and receiving gifts during the holiday season.

It was a time of feasting, drinking, and gift-giving and was seen as a way to celebrate the new year and the return of the coming sun.

The Yule log, also known as the Yule clog or Christmas block, is a traditional Christmas decoration that originated in Europe. It is a large log brought into the home and placed on the hearth or in the fireplace during Christmas, typically around the winter solstice. The log is often decorated with holly, mistletoe, and other festive greenery and is often accompanied by the singing of carols and exchanging gifts.

There is a long-standing tradition of burning the Yule log on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This practice is often associated with celebrating the winter solstice, an important event for the Norse. It is possible that the Norse people, who lived in northern Europe, may have had bonfires as part of their Yuletide celebrations. However, there is limited information available on this topic.

In Norse mythology, Fenris is a giant wolf and one of the children of Loki. Fenris is also known by several other names, with Hróðvitnir and Vánagandr being the most common — the Norse called these alternate names “heitings” as they were often used in poetry. According to legend, Fenris is bound by the gods but is destined to break free and eat the sun during Ragnarök, the end of the world. Hróðvitnir means “fierce and ravenous” and is often used to describe the wolf’s destructive and predatory nature (some mistake “heitings” for  “kennings,” the latter representing a poetical phrase rather than a noa-word, often with a Skaldic rhyme or traditional alliteration.)

 

 

While many aspects of Yuletide have survived to this day, it is worth noting that the holiday has evolved and changed over time. Modern celebrations may differ significantly from ancient traditions.

 

In conclusion, a winter solstice is an astronomical event that marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. The astrological transition from Pisces to Aquarius is unrelated to the winter solstice and has no direct impact on the seasons or the length of daylight.