In the waning days of December, some non-Christians celebrate the winter solstice instead of Christmas. The connection between the two observances is worth reflecting on this Advent Season.
The winter solstice, which will occur on December 21, marks the longest night of the year. After that, the nights grow shorter and the days longer. From ancient times this has been hailed as the victory of light over darkness, which may be why early Christians chose to commemorate the birth of Christ just a few days after the solstice.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke about this quite eloquently in a Christmas homily before he assumed the papacy:
“Very soon, Christians claimed for themselves, on December 25th, the day the light invaded, and celebrated it as the day of the birth of Christ, in which they had found the true light of the world.”