To me, this is the most wonderful and magical time of the year and not for the reasons you might think. It is nice to receive a gift, especially something home made and heartfelt, BUT the reason that I love this time of year so much is precisely what started celebrations at this time of year in the first place. Nope not Christmas...Solstice. The Winter Solstice brings us the longest night of the year, a time that was very scary for our ancestors. The ancients, full of superstition, weren't sure if the days would lengthen again so they lit fires to harken back the light. Greenery such as holly, ivy and evergreen started making their way indoors to liven up the home and act as a harbinger of spring. This marked the time in the agricultural calender when the harvest was in and some livestock were killed so as not to have to feed them over winter and their meat was salted and smoked. The fresh meat was used in one last hurrah of feasting (which until more modern times lasted 12 days), along with anything precious and hard to get like spices and dried fruits and sugar which were being used by Tudor times. With the full force of Winter fast approaching, our ancestors both near and ancient knew that not all would survive the coming months. Cold, illness and starvation were all very real so having a huge celebration to honour themselves, each other, their crops and their livestock seemed an appropriate way to find the strength to face old man winter head on.
I find it so comforting to know that all major religions of the world have a special celebration at this time of year and it's no accident that they coincide with the Solstice. Call me corny but I feel like it's the whole world joining together in happiness and well wishing, no matter what their spiritual beliefs are. So when you see a sign that reads "Jesus is the reason for the season", know that Jesus is the reason for Christmas, but Solstice is the reason for the Season and that means the season belongs to the whole world.
Happy Yule everyone and may your days start shining brighter.
P.S in the event that the world doesn't end tomorrow, we still have Christmas dinner to look forward to:)