Winter Solstice starts today and is the shortest day of the year. It happens every year between December 21-22. The Winter Solstice is one of the rare celebrations that seems to have crossed the boundaries of time, space, beliefs and cultures to be recognized around the globe. To the ancient Romans, the arrival of the winter season was honored by the festival of Brumalia or Saturnalia.
Winter Solstice was marked by reversing the existing order, this was a time to suspend differences. Even wars were stopped or postponed during this period. The parties and masquerades eventually lead to a week long period of drunken excess and general chaos. This is not unlike what so many office parties have become in recent times.
The Roman soldiers had their own variation of Winter Solstice called Deus Sol Invictus. It combined honoring several sun deities, including Mithras, the soldier’s personal god, who was supposed to save the world as a bringer of light.