This year, the Winter Solstice falls on December 22.
Translation and commentary by Cologero Salvo
In “Roma e il natale solare nella tradizione nordico-aria” (La Difesa della razza, 1940), Evola writes:
Very few suspect that the holidays [i.e., Catholic holy days] of today, in the century of skyscrapers, radio, great movements of the masses, are celebrated and continue . . . a remote tradition, bringing us back to the times when, almost at the dawn of humanity, the rising motion of the first Aryan civilization began; a tradition, in which, moreover, the great voice of those men is expressed rather than a particular belief.
A fact unknown to most must be first of all remembered, viz., that in its origins the date of Christmas and that of the beginning of the new year coincided, this date not being arbitrary, but connected to a precise cosmic event, namely, the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice falls in fact on December 25, which is the date of Christmas, subsequently known, but which in its origins had an essentially solar significance. That appears also in ancient Rome: the date of Christmas in ancient Rome was that of the rising of the Sun, the unconquered God, Natalis solis invicti. With that, as the day of the new sun — dies solis novi — in the imperial epoch brought the beginning of the new year, the new cycle. But this “solar birth” of Rome in the imperial period, in its turn, referred to a somewhat more remote tradition of Nordic-Aryan origin. Of the reset, Sol, the solar divinity, appeared already among the dii indigetes, that is, among the divinities of Roman origin, passed on from even more distant cycles of civilization. In reality, the solar religion of the imperial period, in a large measure had the meaning of a recovery and almost of a rebirth, unfortunately altered by various factors of decomposition, of a very old Aryan heritage.
First of all, let us clear up a misconception of the date December 25, which some have believed represents an error on Evola’s part. Julius Caesar, in his calendar reform of 46 BC, did indeed set the date for the Winter Solstice on December 25. Over the centuries, the error in the length of the Julian gradually moved the astronomical date backwards. When Pope Gregory reformed the Julian calendar, he began with a later year, corresponding to a Church council, rather than the original year of 46 BC. Thus, the Winter Solstice moved back to around December 21 instead of the original December 25. Thus, Evola was correct in his claim that the data of Christmas was set to coincide with the Winter Solstice.
In the article, Evola goes on to tie in the date with the birth of Mithras. He also points out that in ancient Rome, the “day of the sun” was also the “Lord’s day,” another tradition adopted by the Christians. He also ties this symbolism of the light with the prologue to John’s Gospel.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world
Evola concludes the article:
In the Aryan and Nordic tradition and in Rome itself, the same theme had an importance not only religious and mystical, but sacred, heroic and cosmic at the same time. It was the tradition of a people, to whom the same nature, the same great voice, which I wrote about , at that date, a tradition of a mystery of resurrection, of the birth or rebirth of a beginning not only of “light” and new life, but also of Imperium, in the highest and most august meaning of the word.