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article imageSolstice celebrated in the snow at Stonehenge

By Lynn Curwin     Dec 22, 2010 in Lifestyle
More than 2,000 people gathered at a snowy Stonehenge Wednesday morning to watch the sun rise as they celebrated the winter solstice .
The sunrise, which took place shortly after 8 am, was obscured by mist but that didn’t affect the enthusiasm of those in attendance who added a snowball fight to the festivities.
Entry was free from around 7.30am until 9am.
Traditional druid and pagan ceremonies were held at the site on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire.
Senior druid King Arthur Pendragon “knighted” Lance Corporal Paul Thomas, a serving soldier of 15 years who fought in Iraq, and performed a pagan handfasting (marriage) ceremony.
The BBC reported that King Arthur, who changed his name by deed poll, used to be known as John Rothwell.
"Despite the cold weather, over 2,000 people attended and it was a cheerful and peaceful atmosphere,” BBC News quoted Peter Carson, of English Heritage, as saying.
"Stonehenge looked spectacular in the snow and it was a great way for people to start their festive season."
He said the popularity of winter solstice has grown over the years as more is known about it.
Winter solstice is the date of the official beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It has the fewest daylight hours of any day because that area of the Earth is tilted farther from the sun.
The BBC reported that the shortest day of the year often falls on December 21, but this year it was marked by the druid and pagan community on 22 December because the modern calendar does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days.
History.com states that the end of December was a good time for celebration in most areas of Europe as cattle were slaughtered so that they would not have to bed fed during the winter and the wine and beer was fermented and ready for drinking.
Photos from this year's celebration can be seen on the MSNBC website.
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