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The Winter Solstice

December 19, 2017

The historic Newgrange in County Meath, A Parade through Dublin City Centre, and The Ceremony of Fire in Smithfield Square are all unique memoirs of the Winter Solstice celebrated here in Ireland. But it is a pagan festival with a long-standing history of intrigue, myth, and paganism.

The Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere marks the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. It is recognised in some areas as the first official day of winter, with the word “Solstice” itself meaning “sun standing still”.  

It marks the pagan holiday of Yule, and has been celebrated for thousands of years with Norse people celebrating it as a time for feasting, and if Icelandic tales are to be believed – a time for sacrifice as well!

But what is its unique significance to Ireland?

Newgrange in County Meath is a prehistoric monument featuring prominently in Irish folklore. Believed to be the dwelling of the Gods, particularly The Dagda who is seen as a father figure said to have control over life, death, and the weather among other things. So now you know who to blame for the wind & rain here! The 5,000 year old passage grave is lit up by the rising sun on the Winter Solstice with many people gathering to watch the inimitable, though brief moment take place.

Here in Dublin, the City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival takes place in the evening with a Parade leaving DIT Grangegorman and making its way down to Smithfield Square. The colourful parade culminates in the Winter Solstice Fire Ceremony.

Not your everyday sight as you pass through our little city, and perhaps not to be missed!

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