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Traditional solstice celebrations existed in many cultures. The Roman feast of Saturnalia, honoring the God Saturn, was a weeklong December feast that included the observance of the winter solstice. Romans also celebrated the lengthening of days following the solstice by paying homage to Mithra—an ancient Persian god of light
The holiday timing of the winter solstice is rooted in ancient religions. Throughout history, humans have observed this seasonal milestone and created spiritual and cultural traditions to celebrate the rebirth of sunlight after the darkest period of the year
Scholars don't agree about the exact origins of Christmas. "In the early years of the Christian church, the calendar was centered around Easter," said Yeide. "Nobody knows exactly where and when (perhaps in Egypt) they began to think it suitable to celebrate Christ's birth as well as the passion cycle (the crucifixion and resurrection)."