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Goddesses of the Winter Solstice

Solstice- a time of awaking, renewal, and celebrating. Goddesses around the world and throughout time have shaped our celebrations of this magical time.

Many traditions of mainstream religious as well as secular celebrations during this time of year are adoptions from our Winter Goddesses’ folklore.

Frau Holle (Holly) is a pre-Christian Norse Goddess. She is associated with hearth, home, fertility and rebirth. Women often show tribute to her with their craft- spinning and weaving. The day of her celebration is December 25th. Women display their fiber crafts (sewing, crotchet, knitting, weaving) around the hearth- “hanging the stockings with care”. She is a protector of children, watching over them in the winter months and rewarding them for the joy they bring to their family. When she awakens and shakes out her bedding, down and feathers fall to Earth, turning to snow.

Frigga is also a Norse Goddess tied to modern winter symbolism. She asked all of nature not to harm her son. In her haste, she overlooked the mistletoe plant. A spear made from a mistletoe branch killed her son but her love brought him back. She then declared that mistletoe, although poisonous for many creatures of the mortal world, be regarded as a symbol of love and rebirth- “kissing under the mistletoe”.

La Befana is an Italian Goddess of winter celebration. Her folklore reads like a blueprint for our modern Santa Claus. She travels throughout the land riding her broom, cleaning chimneys as she goes home to home- “all covered in soot”. She leaves small gifts and treats for children who have been good and coal cleaned from the chimney for those who have been bad. This grandmother goddess rides on Solstice to help wake families from their winter sleep.

There are many other goddesses associated with Yule and Winter Solstice. They share the magic of awakening, rebirth, a return of the light, blessings for home-hearth-family. The Goddess, in her sacred magic, telling us all “Wake up dear ones! Light is returning. I’ve shown you love by protecting you through the dark of winter. Show your love for me by celebrating this new light!”

- Sam Vinke, December 21, 2021

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