The winter solstice is the shortest day, or more accurately the moment at which the sun at its lowest zenith in the year. Northern societies have calculated day lengh accurately for millenia – stonehenge and Newgrange were built for this purpose.
For weeks now, I’ve been going to work in the morning and coming home again in the dark, though not for much longer. By mid january we will be enjoying significantly more daylight so today is the ending of the dying of the light, and the rebirth of the sun, which is why ancient cultures celebrate it. Yule, Saturnalia and others. All religions, ancient and modern have a festival around this time, and often the theme is rebirth. The idea we’re celebrating the birth of a 2,000 year-old levantine carpenter is risible. The ancient church simply co-opted existing festivals.
I’ll be raising a glass to the coming spring this evening, because although I give the impression of being a right-wing capitalist beast, there is a mile-wide streak of hippy in there.