The Winter Solstice celebrations have occurred for thousands of years, long before it was connected to many religious holy days prevalent today. Pagan religious observances associated Solstice with life changes that were linked to the rest of the Universe and was thought to determine the fates of people.
Winter Solstice is the day of the year when less daylight is available than any other day.
The Origin of Solstice:
Earth tilts at a little over 23 degrees, with the axis continuously focused toward the area of the North Star. The earth rotates around the sun in a little over the 365 days that we have labeled a “year”.
Winter was a time of extreme hardship for the people of ancient times. Stored food and the occasional trapped animal was all they had to sustain them. People were fearful that the sun was going to disappear when it seemed the sun was sinking lower in the sky each day. They were afraid that a permanent darkness with frigid temperatures were going to become prevalent. When the sun began rising once again in the sky they found reason to celebrate. They were able to notice a significant rise directly after the Solstice celestial event and timed their celebrations around the 25th of December.
In recent times there has been an increase in solstice observances by atheists and freethinkers. A sort of reclamation of historic observances without the religious connection. Many now use the solstice celebration as an alternative to religious and commercialized holidays. An exchange of gifts and cards, and participation in family socialization are enjoyed by many.