Celebrating the New Light at Winter Solstice
By Theresa Russell

Celebrating the New Light at Winter Solstice


December 21 marks the longest dark day of the year, but also signifies the return of the sun. The Solstice has been celebrated since ancient times and that tradition continues throughout Ohio. Ready to welcome back the sun? Mark your calendar for these events on the Winter Solstice.

Sunrise at Fort Ancient

For those seeking the rising sun centered by a notch created by the Hopewell people, the celebration at Fort Ancient is the place for early birds. As is common to many archaeological sites, the orientation of structures in relation to astronomical occurrences played an important role in the planning of such sites. Definitely the case at Fort Ancient, the sunrise notch frames the rising sun on Solstice. The quick event starts at 7:15am.

West Woods

Experience Solstice events while learning the traditions at West Woods in Russell, Ohio. In its 28th year, this interactive event is self-guided this year, allowing participants to peruse four stations along a luminaria-lit path. Mistletoe, Yulelog, Saturnalia and Hertha play significant roles in solstice traditions.

Photo Credit: Geauga Park District

In addition, an outdoor performance area tells the story of the Solstice. The Science of Solstice investigates the astronomical aspect. The Origin of the Christmas tree has a Santa and Buddy the Elf to share that story. Druid Commemoration and the Northern Barbarian Bonfires describe the traditions of those cultures. These skits last from 5-10 minutes and are repeated once again so that everybody has a chance to see them. Back indoors, the Pilgrim Brass Choir performs. Cider and cookies are served and kids have a chance to try their hand at crafts.

Hear and Hike

The historic Stone School House is the meeting spot for this Solstice event sponsored by Concord Township Rec Dept.

Photo Credit: Dan Maxson

Recently restored to its original look, the school house welcomes guests to hear Solstice history and stories from docent Dan Maxson. After the talk, a hike along the Greenway Corridor lets guests experience this longest, darkest day, which is topped off with hot chocolate.

Sunset in Marietta

Photo Credit: The Castle

At the Castle in town, a staff archaeologist meets with guests at the linear alignment at the earthworks site to watch the sunset over the Muskingum Valley bluff. This area is defined by two long earthen walls and is known as the Sacra Via. The site actually offers two opportunities to see the sunset framed by the walls. The  resident archaeologist explains this interesting and moving experience through words and maps.

As the sun sets in Marietta, a longer day will soon come with the next rising.

For more winter celebrations, Find It Here at Ohio.org.


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