“Tis the reason for the season” by Robert F. Walsh describes pagan festivals over history, designed to induce the sun to change direction, or afterward to thank it for doing so:
Brumalia, an ancient Roman solstice festival honoring the god Bacchus generally held for a month and ending Dec. 25.
Gheimhridh was celebrated by Druids and Proto-Celtic tribes at Newgrange as early as 3200 BCE.
Babylonians held an annual renewal celebration, the Zagmuk Festival, that lasted 10 days to observe the sun god Marduk’s battle over darkness.
Saturnalia, a Roman feast commemorating the dedication of the temple of Saturn, lasted Dec. 17-23.
The Buddhist celebration of Sanghamitta, honoring the Buddhist nun who brought a branch of the Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka, has been held around the winter solstice for more than 2,000 years.
Polytheistic European tribes celebrated Midvinterblot, a mid-winter-sacrifice.
The Zuni and the Hopitu Indians celebrated Soyal, the winter solstice ceremony held on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year
But by-and-large, we just know and honor the day as the “Birthday of the Sun” and we are happy to have it coming our way in the northern hemisphere for the next six months.
So let’s keep the Sun in Festivus.