|Sunset, Gilleleje, Zealand|
We do not worship and sacrifice to the sun like the ancient people did. The sun's power over mankind was always great, especially in the countries to the North, where the sun at midwinter is like a far disc, pale, golden and cold as the moon - and in some places like in The Land of the Midnight Sun it disappears for a period. No wonder the ancient people tried to recreate the sun above the southern horizon, the warmth had to come back to bring life over nature after a dark winter - and when the sun appeared again, its return was celebrated with cheers throughout the settlements.
|Trundholm Sun Chariot|
|Petroglyphs with sun sign|
The horse was in Bronze Age a sacred animal, it was only used in religious celebrations, stallion fights and in the first sacred ploughing of the New Year. The chariot and the horse is an unambiguously witness that the sun was worshipped in early Bronze Age - or else the sun is in ancient times most often reproduced by a sign: a wheel cross, a circle, a spiral or a fully carved disc which is seen on some petroglyphs. It is known that in the near Orient and in North India the wheel was in ancient times a commonly used image of the sun. The circle or the ring is the simplest reproduction of the sun, and together with the spiral those signs decorated the disc of the Trundholm chariot.
|Midsummer celebration, Sweden, 1969.|
|Sami family in spring celebration.|
When the Sames got lost in the mountains because of bad weather and fog, they placed as a sacrifice to the sun a holed wooden disc : a wheel. On Christmas morning they saluted the sun and drank its tribute and took omens about good or bad luck in the year to come from the sunshine upon a brass ring in water. After the homecoming they drank a tribute to the fertility gods and brought sacrifices to the sun, the bones of the sacrificed animals were placed in a circle upon a sacred table - or meat hung up in a circle-bend wicker twig. The sun would then recognize its sacrifice through the sun signs. At midsummer wreaths of leaves and grass were hung up in honour of the sun.
|Swedish Christmas cakes 16th century.|
A link between midwinter's solstice, old ancient sun-belief and the fertility of the next year, were up till present time kept in the Swedish Christmas bread,which was decorated with the signs of the sun, the wheel and the spiral. The Christmas bread was stored in winter - and in spring it was crumbled and given in small bites to both humans and animals in the farm on the first day of the spring-sowing in order to secure a good harvest.
Archaeological magazine SKALK nr. 4, 1961: P.V.Glob, "Solens Tegn".
photo Gilleleje: grethe bachmann
other photos: wikipedia.