There are those who complain every year that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th and that celebrating Christmas on that day is just a pagan tradition. But the simplest response to that is that pagans do not have a monopoly on the winter solstice. How natural to celebrate Light’s arrival during the darkest time of the year.
One of the readings for December 21 (the solstice) was Song of Songs 2: 11-12: “For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth.” While technically, it is the first day of the season of winter, it is also the end of another winter. A spiritual winter of separation and despair has ended. The day grows longer; the light overcomes darkness. God appears on the earth. Salvation and hope is at hand.
It is still cold. It is still dark. The story is far from over. But there is a flicker of warmth and light piercing the icy winter. There is hope. And that makes all the difference. Hope turns winter into spring.