Thursday, December 21 is the 2017 Winter Solstice and the shortest day of our calendar year. The pagan celebrations that were taking place to observe this annual milestone are why the Christmas holiday takes place on December 25. If you enjoy what many consider the most wonderful season of all, you can thank ancient worshippers of the elements along with 17th-century believers in Christ. The root of the most famous holiday in modern times comes from Christians who tried to interfere with what they considered as debauchery taking place during the cold of the last month of the year.

The desire to replace a secular celebration with one to acknowledge the birth of the Messiah is why we now have all the varied festivities related to Christmas Day.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

In the northern hemisphere, the earth will be tilted it's farthest from the sun on Thursday, December 21 at 11:27 AM EST. This will be the shortest day and longest night of the year and the closer you are to the North Pole the longer your shadow will look. Many will gather in Stonehenge England to watch the shadow from the giant sundial. From this point, the days will begin to be longer. In centuries past there were pagan rituals and festivities that celebrated the Winter Solstice. History tells us they were filled with drinking and revelry, along with the worship of the sun and moon.

Believers in Christ were outraged and desired to convert the "pagan's to their way of thinking. This is why December 25 was chosen as the day to celebrate Christmas. These early Christians never said that Jesus was born in the last month of the year but only chose this date to redirect attention away from the Solstice celebrations.

Over time, however, people began to assume and then actually state that this was His birthday.

Thank the Solstice for Christmas

The Christians of the 17th century were appalled at the pagan festivities, so they began their own traditions related to the birth of Christ. Many of the Solstice traditions such as decorating the tree, yule log, and mistletoe were incorporated into the Christmas celebration, and they continue to this day.

From this attempt to spiritualize a secular observation the world has embraced a holiday filled with joy and cheer. Beautiful carols were written, and many of them continue to be utilized today.

If not for the pagans celebrating the shortest day of the year, there would have been no reason for the early believers in Christ to initiate a celebration in honor of His birth. Whether you love Christmas, hate it or are indifferent to the holiday you can thank the Winter Solstice for being the root o it's inception.