NT10 Winter Solstice Sunrise
The celebration of the winter solstice has its roots in many cultures worldwide, particularly the Celtic tradition, where druids – wise women and men – would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and offer it as a blessing each year.The Celts and Druids, held trees very sacred especially the Oak and was an important symbol in their religion. They believed that the Oak represented the World Tree, which ties all three worlds together. Its highest branches reach into the Upper world, their trunks lived in the Earth world and below its roots were a passageway into the Underworld.
According to an old Celtic myth, on the solstices of each year the Oak King, representing the light, and the Holly King, representing the dark, would fight, with the Oak King emerging victorious at the winter solstice, enabling the return of the light.
The winter solstice tradition dates back to before the Celts, however, as evidenced by the underground cairn in Newgrange, Co Meath, constructed in 3300BC, which is illuminated by the sun at dawn on December 21st.