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Winter solstice 2012: Crowds gather at Stonehenge to celebrate pagan ritual
Friday, December 21st, 2012

More than 5,000 people gathered at Stonehenge to mark the winter solstice in England today. The attendance, noted BBC News, was equivalent to five times the number that turned out last year.

Revellers said this year's solstice coincided with the 5,125-year long count cycle of the Mayan calendar, which some people believe indicates the end of the world.

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in the norther hesmiphere. The solstice is the only time people are allowed inside stonehenge's circle of stones.

"It is absolutely packed. People are cheering and chanting and everybody was looking towards the sun for that special moment," said BBC reporter Annie Weston.

"There are flags flying, druids here too and people of various religions and faiths."
 

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People gather to watch the sunrise as druids, pagans and revellers celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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Rollo Maughfling, the Archdruid of Glastonbury and Stonehenge, conducts a ceremony as druids, pagans and revellers wait for the sun to rise as they take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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The unseasonable warm weather encouraged a larger than normal crowd to gather at the famous historic stone circle to celebrate the sunrise closest to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman dances as druids, pagans and revellers take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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People dance as the sun rises, as druids, pagans and revellers, celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman dressed as a unicorn watches the sun rise, as druids, pagans and revellers take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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Predictions that the world will end today as it marks the end of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the ancient Maya calendar, encouraged a larger than normal crowd to gather at the famous historic stone circle to celebrate the sunrise closest to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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Rollo Maughfling, the Archdruid of Glastonbury and Stonehenge, blows a horn as he conducts a ceremony as druids, pagans and revellers wait for the sun to rise as they take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman stands in the stone circle as the sun rises, as druids, pagans and revellers take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman dances as druids, pagans and revellers take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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People watch as the sun rises as druids, pagans and revellers take part in a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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More than 5,000 people gathered in Wiltshire, England to celebrate the winter solstice.

( - AFP/Getty Images)
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Druids conduct a ceremony following the traditional winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge to coincide with the supposed Mayan Apocalypse, on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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Druids conduct a ceremony following the traditional winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge to coincide with the supposed Mayan Apocalypse, on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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Druids conduct a ceremony following the traditional winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge to coincide with the supposed Mayan Apocalypse, on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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Arthur Uther Pendragon (L) knights a woman as Druids conduct a ceremony following the traditional winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge to coincide with the supposed Mayan Apocalypse, on December 21, 2012 in Wiltshire, England.

(Matt Cardy - AFP/Getty Images)
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