Winter Solstice Day - Holidays and Wine

Back during Beltane, or May Day, there was a lot of celebrating the spring and making of dandelion wine. Now it's the opposite time of year, when Winter Solstice rolls around. This is the shortest day of the year, and for many cultures, the traditional beginning of a new year.

This holiday originated in ancient cultures, as soon as people could measure lengths of days and the changing of the seasons, and realized what happened during the solstice and equinox. The winter solstice was a traditional year-end marker - where the old year ended and the new one began. It was first known as "Yule", from the Norse "Jul" meaning wheel. In Roman days, Emperor Aurelian chose December 25th as the "Invincible Sun" birthday for that reason. The Roman "Saturnalia" celebrations (originally Dec 17th) merged into this and lasted a week or more. The day was later Christianized, and many traditions that are now part of Christmas come from the various pagan celebrations.

Saturn was the god of Agriculture, and this was a celebration to thank him for the year's harvest and to pray for a successful harvest in the coming year. His partner, Ops, was the goddess of Plenty and was also celebrated at this time.

Traditional winter celebrations involved enjoying the fruits of the summer ones. Dandelion wine, normally made on MayDay, was opened up at this point and drunk. Mead, the product of summer honeybees, was also enjoyed, both in warmed punches as well as chilled. Herbs of this celebration included holly, pinecones, and mistletoe.

Want to hold a solstice celebration? If you don't have any dandelion wine waiting in your basement it'll probably be hard to find some, but most wine shops carry a mead or two. Put out nuts, oranges, apples, rolls, and basic meets like turkey, chicken and venison. Throw a log on the fire, kiss under the mistletoe, and toast the start of a new year!

Wine and Holidays
Wine in History

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.