The winter solstice is significant for a variety of disciplines, cultures, and people from all walks of life. It is an astronomical phenomenon that marks the day with the shortest period of sunlight and the longest night of the year. The sun rises in its most Southern latitude and its daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. In meteorology, the hibernal solstice or “midwinter” in the Northern hemisphere occurs in December and is often considered the first day of winter, even if temperatures do not reflect it. 

Astronomical changes like the solstice often inform a wide range of activities, traditions, celebrations and rituals in various cultures. To welcome the first rays of sunlight of the winter solstice, members of Kalpulli Ameyaltonal Tejaztlan, an indigenous group that engages in preserving the ancestral ways of the Anahuac, gathered at the Hays Street Bridge Wednesday to celebrate with a Mexica-Chichimeca danza. As a part of the Mexica tradition, the hummingbird, or huitzilopochtli, serves as important symbol during the winter solstice. It is looked to for its force and willpower to fly and stay in flight.

“It embodies the spirit of a warrior and that incessant will to just exist,” Kalpulli Ameyaltonal Tejaztlan leader Laura Yohualtlahuiz Rios-Ramirez said. “I think that’s a beautiful thing that hummingbirds teach us.”

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone is a California native and a graduate of the University of Oregon. She moved to San Antonio in December 2015 to join The Rivard Report team as photographer and videographer.