[ A quick (and not particularly elegant) rehashing of the solstice story so I don't have to keep referring to the one I wrote six years ago. ]
In the beginning there was only day and night. There were no seasons, no summer or winter, autumn or spring. In the beginning the Sun and the Moon were brothers and lovers, yet ill-fated to be forever a vast horizon apart. The Sun ruled a realm of light and warmth, while the Moon was lord of ice and darkness. They were alone in their separate worlds, never together save for the fleeting moment when the kingdoms of eastern dawn and western dusk were equal. And so every day as the Sun rose and the Moon set, and every night as the Moon rose and the Sun set, the lovers touched but once.
Yet one morning a terrible thing happened. As the Sun lit the land with light to banish the Moon’s darkness, the lovers met. And as they did, the Moon rose up and drove his cold blade into the Sun’s chest, spilling his own beloved’s blood. The Sun collapsed into the Moon’s arms, choking on golden blood that bubbled on his lips and soaked into his elegant robes. Grieving, the Moon pulled from his shoulders the cloak of midnight and wrapped his lover within it, veiling the Sun’s light with his own darkness. The land grew cold and silent as the Moon cradled the Sun close and pleaded for his lover’s understanding. With his dying breath, the Sun kissed the Moon and forgave him.
The Moon’s mourning sank all the world into the first black, icy winter. Nothing grew; nothing lived. The land starved, the oceans froze, and darkness reigned. It seemed as if dawn would never come again and the world never awake from its grieving hibernation. Even in his misery, however, the Moon knew the eternal night must eventually end; no night should last forever. So with the darkness and his lover’s cold corpse to witness, the Moon surrendered half his heart and half his life to resurrect the Sun. One kiss upon the Sun’s blood stained lips sealed the sacrifice and completed the pact.
The Sun arose, then, bringing glorious summer to a land which had forgotten the touch of warmth and light. As the oceans thawed and the first green shoots broke through the melting snow, the Sun drew his own shining blade and drove it into the Moon’s pale chest. The Sun caught the dying Moon and held him close, wrapping his slain lover in the golden cloak of morning. The Sun begged forgiveness for his crime and with his dying breath the Moon kissed and forgave him. The day the Sun arose became the Summer Solstice, longest and brightest of days. When half a year had passed, the Moon rose and slew the Sun once again. The day he awoke became the Winter Solstice, longest and coldest of nights.
And so the cycle continues, each lover’s death and resurrection ushering in the change of the seasons. The legend never reveals why the Moon first rose up and slew his lover the Sun. Perhaps the Moon was weak and the never-ending darkness of his night realm drove him mad. Perhaps he wanted the Sun to himself and the loneliness poisoned his heart. Or perhaps he simply understood that they were ill-fated and the betrayal inevitable, even necessary. The Moon’s reasoning is lost now, but all that matters is that he slew his bonded, his lover and brother, and sacrificed himself to undo the crime. All that matters now is that both betrayed and were betrayed, forgave and were forgiven. Murder and sacrifice, heartache and death, all in the name of love.