The winter solstice. Today the sun reaches its southern most points, and begins its long journey back to its summer strength. The new year of ancient cultures.
In poetic literature, as exemplified by Robert Graves, this is represented by the replacement of the Oak King by the Holly King. The oak is the last tree to lose its leaves in winter, and now its reign is over and the evergreen holly, symbol of rebirth and eternal life, rules.
This is also seen in myth as the slaying of the wren by the new year robin. Until recent times, wrens were hunted on St Stephen's Day, 26th December, in a reenactment of this.
Both of these examples represent the Year King or Dying and Rising God , who is born, lives, dies and is reborn, representing all life which flourishes and withers in an annual cycle. The life of the God is mirrored by that of the sun, being born at the winter solstice , thriving for a year before dying and then being reborn the following year. The parallels with the Christmas story are obvious.
The king is dead. Long live the king
Happy solstice everyone.