Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Countdown 1 - Pagan Origins

Long before Christmas and the Nativity, our ancestors celebrated a mid-winter festival associated with the Winter Solstice, around 21st December. Neolithic monuments such as Newgrange in Ireland and Stonehenge were aligned with solstices (Newgrange points to the rising sun at mid-winter, Stonehenge the setting sun). The 25th of December was the Roman Winter Solstice - and this pagan festival was taken over and made Christian.
Certain inhabitants of the village of Moreton Harwood in Gloucestershire were a bit confused in how they celebrated the Solstice. They decided to sacrifice the young ward of Sarah Jane Smith's aunt to the goddess Hecate. They dressed up with goat headed masks and other Satanist trappings. Fortunately K9 was on hand to put a stop to the proceedings.
Hecate was a Greek deity - a goddess of the Underworld. She has been represented as having animal heads - but never that of a goat. The Greeks celebrated her in August and November, and the Romans on the 29th of every month. She is more likely to be celebrated at a crossroads, rather than a de-consecrated church - and dogs, rather than precocious public schoolboys, are more likely to be sacrificed. She's popular these days with Wiccans as a representation of the Mother Goddess.

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