How is Winter Solstice celebrated at Newgrange?

THE winter solstice is an astronomical event that marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

It has a long history in Ireland with many fascinating traditions, particularly at Newgrange?

How is Winter Solstice celebrated at Newgrange?

The winter solstice was one of the most important celebrations in the pre-Christian world.

It usually occurs on 21 or 22 December, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn.

All over the Northern Hemisphere, there were ancient festivals marking the shortest days of the year when the sun appeared to “stand still.”

Solstice is from the latin sōlstitium which translates as Sun stop or Sun still.

Several of these festivals have survived to this day and others have been incorporated into modern festivals.

In Ireland, the winter solstice has been marked for at least 5000 years.

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Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun.

Above the entrance to the passage of the mound there is an opening called a roof-box.

On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber.

As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated.

For the second year in a row, the Office of Public Works (OPW), in partnership with the National Monuments Services (NMS) will broadcast the phenomenal event that marks the passing of the longest night of the year live.

What is the history of Winter Solstice at Newgrange?

The spectacular Síd in Broga cairn at Newgrange was built around 3300 BC in precise alignment with the rising sun over the solstice each winter.

The monument is an imposing testament to the importance of the time of year for our ancient ancestors.

Where is Newgrange?

Newgrange is in County Meath, Ireland.

The prehistoric passage tomb covered by a grassy mound.

It was build 5,200 years ago making it about 200 years older than the Pyramids in Egypt.

Although it’s difficult to estimate how long it would have taken to build the monument it did tell experts a great deal about the people at the time.

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