I commented this piece to a Creationist who felt the need to call all 'seculars' hypocrites for not being religious yet being happy to take the day off, 'their' day off, to celebrate the birth of their Savior.
"You gripe about non-Christians commandeering your holiday for Jesus while denying that Jesus represents an abiding faith in God.
Hey, Jim, the Winter Solstice was celebrated since humans looked up at the sky and noticed that the Sun rises in a cyclical pattern ending/starting(or dying and being reborn), a natural end to the natural year followed by a natural beginning to a new year.
If people attributed this to an otherworldly consciousness and gave it spiritual meaning, Sun-worshippers(and I don't mean beach-goers) marked the occasion by feasting, celebrating the end of the natural new year(Solstice) and perhaps praying that the Sun would climb back from it's low points on the horizon, beginning a new year.
The Sun ALWAYS started it's climb back towards summertime BUT the Sun-worshippers didn't know that, they felt that if the Sun kept getting lower down, it would eventually disappear and the world would come to an icy end.
Every year, the Sun-worshippers' prayers were answered and the Sun climbed higher in the sky, starting it's 'journey' from farther north on the horizon.
This, after three days of no apparent 'movement'.
And you think that just because early Christians hi-jacked the Winter Solstice, the natural New Year, to celebrate, not the Sun's rebirth, but your Messiah's birth instead, that we ought to just take your word that Christmas ought to be celebrated by everyone who ought to acknowledge your Messiah?
Then you, being totally ignorant of the Sun's apparent movement at the horizon, dawning at a different location, in a cycle, EVERY MORNING, you feel you have a right to call us hypocrites?
Well, I guess your religious brain-washing is complete if you have no idea of the importance of the Solstice to 'early man' as an unexplained natural phenomenon promising another growing season.
So, you see, it's not so much that people are 'hypocrites' as much as you are ignorant.
But, since you read this, you're no longer ignorant, are you? You can put it down to 'you learn something new every day' and throw the 'Christmas hypocrites' argument in the toilet. "
Anyway it got me to thinking that there were likely people celebrating the Winter Solstice putting perhaps a much MORE religious spin on it than others and some who were actually just in awe of nature and the inexplicable Sun cycles of the World (the cycles are created by the motion of the planet).
For some it would be a grand feast with a primitive lesson in astronomy for the children to pass on generation after generation but for others it would be thought of as communication with the gods, pleading for the Sun to bring the World back to life, a very spiritual thing.
Using the spiritual idea to their advantage, shamans, priests, religious leaders would tend to control their flocks by persuading them that they were in communication with the spirit that controlled the apparent movement of the Sun through the year.
They would ritualize the Winter Solstice celebration pretending (confusing themselves?) that THEY, the priests, were in communication with, controlling the gods/spirits/God, or at least attempting such control, when IN FACT they were actually controlling their population, convincing their followers that THEY(the priests) had occult knowledge/spirituality.
Christians were well aware of the power of spirituality to control the population/pray to God.
Priests were the keepers of knowledge and the arbiters of goodness in a largely ignorant World and they could hi-jack natural phenomena to their advantage disguised as spirituality.
(Say, "Hi!", to God for me oneblood, wherever you are.)