Here you will find information on ancient holidays that have been celebrated on or around the Winter Solstice. Some of these ancient holidays, like Christmas, continue to be celebrated, but they have their origin in the ancient world. There are glossary entries for some of the special terms, especially in connection with Christmas.
Here you will find a summary of the major holidays during the period, Saturnalia, Brumalia, Hanukkah, Christmas, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, and Sankranti.
The Saturnalia was a festive occasion and a lot of fun for the ancient Romans. Masters waited on slaves. Gambling was legal. There was a lot of food, drink, and gift giving. With a little effort, you can experience a taste of what it must have been like.
People have pointed out similarities between the worship of Mithras and Christ. Some take this further and say that Christmas copied other ancient religions.
We talk about the Winter Solstice in connection with Saturnalia, Christmas and megalithic monuments like Newgrange
. Do you know what it means?
Why do we spend too much and eat too much and hang lights all over everything that can be made to reach an electrical outlet?
The Greeks celebrated the Solstice, too, but the gods they honored, Poseidon, Demeter, and Aphrodite, were different from those honored by the Romans at their major winter festivities.
Why Adam and Eve and holly are connected with Christmas.
Public Domain medieval fresco from Boyana Church in Bulgaria. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
We call him Santa Claus and say he comes from the North Pole. Find out about this figure from ancient Asia Minor.
Honored with wreaths holding candles or by opening little paper doors, Advent is another technical term in the Christmas story. It's based on a Latin verb.
It's unlikely that Jesus was born in December. This is a brief introduction to the topic.