December 22, 2015 12:47 PM EST

Thousands of people journeyed to Stonehenge on Dec. 22 to celebrate the winter solstice, an important day in the Druid belief system.

Senior Druid King Arthur Pendragon told the BBC the solstice, the shortest day of the year, represents the coming of a new sun.”This is the dawn we’ve been waiting for, this is the dawn the ancients cared about so much,” he said.

England Heritage explained to BBC why so many people travel to Stonehenge to celebrate: “One of the most important and well-known features of Stonehenge is its alignment on the midwinter sunset-midsummer sunrise solstitial axis,” a spokesperson said. “The midwinter sun sets between the two upright stones of the great trilithon.”

 

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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