Winter holidays are celebrated in many parts of the world, with minor variances in the specific day.

Some of these probably originated as a result of crude determinations of the winter solstice, and perhaps a few days allowance to make sure that the solstice really had occurred. Some variation in the date selected may also have been the result of using different methods of measuring the winter solstice. (Stonehenge in the northern latitudes has stones arranged to view the winter solstice while an observatory near the Sphinx in Egypt, nearer the equator, has a shadow system which determines the equinoxes.) There have also been changes in the calendars of different societies that probably have caused differences.

Christian World - Christmas

The early Christians wanted to have their own winter holiday to compete with various Pagan winter holidays.

Accordingly, a winter date was decreed to be the celebration of the birth of Christ, and became know as Christmas.

Among those using the Gregorian calendar, it is observed on December 25. Eastern Orthodox Churches, celebrate on December 25 on the Julian calendar, which currently is January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. Both dates are merely traditional and neither is thought to be the actual birth date of Jesus.

Click here for a more detailed reference to the origins of Christmas. Then scroll down to Origins.

There are many other winter holiday celebrations, many on dates perceived to be related to the return of the sun.
Click here for a more detailed reference to Winter Holidays around the world.