On December 21 the winter solstice will arrive. A solstice occurs when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. This event happens twice every year, once in winter and once in summer.
The winter solstice has generally been celebrated around the world as a pagan holiday. When Christianity came to Europe though, many of the traditions were taken by the new religion. In Christianity, the time of the solstice corresponded with and could be used to celebrate the nativity of John the Baptist, which is why the festival has taken on names having to do with Saint John. The pagans picked flowers they believed to contain healing powers during the time of the solstice, and they also lit the aforementioned bonfires because they believed the fires would ward off evil spirits who roamed the night as the sun reversed its course.
For more information and the clip art, visit The Winter Solstice.
Image - Dixie Allan