Winter Solstice

December 21st -- the Winter Solstice -- is the shortest day of the year. See what you know about how different cultures celebrated this day.

Quiz

December 21st -- the Winter Solstice -- is the shortest day of the year. See what you know about how different cultures celebrated this day.

1. The Romans honored the Winter Solstice with a festival called Saturnalia. During this celebration:

  • Slaves ate with their masters.
  • The practice of giving presents under trees began.
  • Animals were sacrificed to appease Saturn, the god of light.

2. The Scandinavian barbarians held a festival called Jiuleis to celebrate the solstice. Can you guess what popular custom came from this feast?

  • The Julienne method of preparing meat.
  • Serving egg nog, a Scandinavian beverage.
  • The burning of the Yule Log.

3. Did you know that many of the ancient ruins we visit were built to celebrate solstices? Which of the following temples honors the Winter Solstice?

  • Stonehenge in England.
  • Chichen-Itza in Mexico.
  • Newgrange in Ireland.

4. In Norse mythology, Balder, the god of the summer sun, was killed by an arrow made of a now popular Christmas leaf. Which one was it?

  • Poinsettia.
  • Mistletoe.
  • Pine needle.

5. Many of the traditions associated with Christmas actually come from the pagan worship of the Winter Solstice. Which of the following festivals involves the custom of giving presents?

  • Sigillaria, the Roman holiday after Saturnalia.
  • Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.
  • Festivus de Libertas, The Festival of the Liberated Sun.

Your Results:

1. The Romans honored the Winter Solstice with a festival called Saturnalia. During this celebration:
Slaves ate with their masters.

2. The Scandinavian barbarians held a festival called Jiuleis to celebrate the solstice. Can you guess what popular custom came from this feast?
The burning of the Yule Log.

3. Did you know that many of the ancient ruins we visit were built to celebrate solstices? Which of the following temples honors the Winter Solstice?
Newgrange in Ireland.

4. In Norse mythology, Balder, the god of the summer sun, was killed by an arrow made of a now popular Christmas leaf. Which one was it?
Mistletoe.

5. Many of the traditions associated with Christmas actually come from the pagan worship of the Winter Solstice. Which of the following festivals involves the custom of giving presents?
Sigillaria, the Roman holiday after Saturnalia.

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