Winter Solstice, Japan

In Japan, dating from the 7th century, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu (or Amateras, Hindu) re-emerged from her cave, to bring sunlight back to the world. Requiems for the dead were performed during the night, as they awaited the sunrise. The festival that marks the extreme of winter is one of the most important festivals; this festival dates back to the Yin and Yang philosophy of balance, noting, of course, the shortest day and longest night during the year, during which time the heavens become more in balance. The longer daylight hours are believed to restore energy. Balls of sticky rice, which symbolize reunion, are eaten during this time.

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