Today is the shortest day, and tonight will be the longest night, and regardless of religious scriptures, or personal beliefs, this is the astronomical moment when the northern hemisphere is tilted furthest from the sun…the winter solstice.
If you want to know more about the Winter Solstice, I suggest a read of Wikipedia for a fascinating article. It always amazes me how so many different civilizations and cultures have celebrated this time of year. Whether it be the Norse inspired Hogmanay of Scotland, the murderous Lenaea festival of ancient Greece (The Festival of Wild Women, where a man or bull symbolising Dionysus was torn to pieces and eaten), the ancient (6000 year old) mysteries of the Druidic and Celtic midwinter festivals (a culture which built Newgrange, a tomb/chamber only illuminated on the winter solstice, and the summer solstice Stone Henge), or the youthful (4th century Rome, 11th Century England) Natalis Domini which we know by the modern (and commercialised) name of Christmas, they all occur in alignment with this time of the astronomical year with subtle variations based upon the changes in calendar systems, etc.
What better way to celebrate this midwinter than with Jethro Tull’s 1976 midwinter classic, Ring Solstice Bells: