To All My Friends -
The shortest days of this season have caused people the world over, of all times and cultures and beliefs and philosophies, to create reasons for celebrating the lengthening days.
From ancient pre-history days when the Winter Solstice was celebrated to recognize the first longer days, to the old Persian Sadeh ("to defeat the forces of darkness, frost, and cold"), to Malkh (a celebration of the Sun in the Caucasus Mountains), to the Saturnalia of the Romans (Saturn was their god of plenty, wealth, and renewal - with exchanges of gifts), Yalda of the Iranians ("the turning point"), Modraniht of the Saxons ("Mothers Night" - and I'm guessing there was a fertility festival 9 months earlier), to the celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas in the modern religions, this time of year has always been celebrated in some sense of renewed life.
I tend to think of the initial causes of all these celebrations as the Winter Solstice and think of that day as my holiday. There is no unique belief associated with it, as it is a natural function of the Earth's rotation and axial tilt. Holidays established to recognize this event vary mostly on the precise date due to historical calendar changes. Another reason I prefer the Winter Solstice itself... That event is consistent.
So to everyone, whatever your reason is to celebrate at this general time of year, Celebrate and Be Joyful!