The winter solstice occurs at the instant when the Sun's position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observer's hemisphere. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days.This simple result of orbital physics is marked by festivals celebrating rebirth in the religions of most cultures. The most pervasive and obscene for its displays of materialism is Christmas. Others holidays include: Amaterasu, Beiwe, Deygan and Midvinterblot.
So, while it is easy to get caught up in the hype of parties and shopping and desecrating nativity scenes, we should not forget the true reason for the season. That science has given us the ability to observe, predict and understand the changes in the seasons and that we can move beyond ritualistic appeasements to ill tempered divine figures so that they will cause the spring to come again.