Each morning the sun rolls across the sky. In Estonia it was the hatched egg of the enchanted swallow bird, an emu’s egg bursting into flames in Australia, and a golden piece of bacon for the Nama people of South Africa. In the evening, it descends into the sea, as a bridegroom or warrior, golden rays transformed into spears or robes of light, hissing with heat as the waters close over it, before swimming back to the east. Sometimes in gloom-shrouded nights, we may imagine it will never return and we will be plunged into unyielding darkness, but still it rises and always will, at least for the next five billion years or so!
The winter solstice has been celebrated in some form all around the world for centuries. Individual human cultures often mixed magic with religion in acknowledgement and celebration of this important astronomical event. Here we briefly look at five of these festivities from around the world, before discussing why they were so important to our ancestors and concluding with what science has to say today.
A horse or a dragon? Anyone who has seen May Day’s ‘Obby ‘Oss of Padstow may conclude that it looks like neither.
Christmas is over, New Year has been well and truly celebrated, and most of us are back at work by January 4th at the latest. All we have to look forward to is the rest of January, a month which is cold, dark and devoid of any reason for fun and games. But what about Epiphany? The rest of world enjoys hearty festivities on this day so why are we Brits so ignorant of its importance? Let’s break out the Prosecco again and take a look. And maybe start a petition to Bring Back Epiphany!
Chris Kullstroem delves into the world of monsters, their cultural festivals and scare tourism…