The Illustration Friday topic is Holiday this week - which is quite appropriate as so many festivals take place at this time of year - often centred round the Winter Solstice - the Longest Night.
Most festivals are connected to lights and fires - Yule logs, candles , rush lights and oil lamps and other ways of lighting the darkness and chasing away the doubts and fears of Mid Winter.
Feasting is also common as its a celebration of life and hope and athanksgiving for the harvest of the previous year and at the same time the hope of equal bounty in the future.
I decided to make this weeks illustration very inclusive in the hope that everyone has a peaceful and joyful time of celebration and a prosperous and healthy 2006.
Many ancient sacred places ; chambered cairns and stone circles are oriented towards the midwinter solstice and are designed to capture the rays of the sun either as it crosses the horizon at dawn or at sunset
In ancient places such as Newgrange [Brú na Bóinne ] in Ireland and Maes Howe in Orkney, Scotland, the sunlight creeps down a passage into a specially created chamber which may symbolise rebirth. the awakening of seeds or the fertility of the land.
An animated view of the Maes Howe midwinter sunset is here
and a webcam set up for this year is here
Newgrange winter solstice sunrises [stills] and inside Newgrange film
thought there doesn't seem to be awebcam. In previous years there has been TV footage of the Midwinter sunrise but I haven't managed to find some this year.
Less well known is the Goseck Circle, Sonnenobservatorium Goseck aka Kreisgrabenanlage Goseck. This year a replica of the timber circle was opened in time for the winter solstice.
2,300 oak poles were erected, with gates oriented towards the winter Solstice and this year a festival using traditional flaming torches and a non traditional laser lightshow marked the occasion of the solstice. Photos of the event are here
This is the new banner for the blog for the time of the solstice, symbolising the return of the sun and the hope of warmer, sunnier, longer days to come.