The darkest night of the year was called mothers’ night, because now the sun god, lover of the goddess, is reborn in the lap of the Earth. In this night the goddess gives birth in the darkest place on Earth, during the quietest hour, to the reborn sun-child.
Here are more ancient myths, activities, and symbols of Christmas:
Astronomical date: Solstice, mid-winter.
Mythology: Wotan and the Wild Hunt; Christmas wights (creatures of the woods); the rebirth of the sun; Saturnalia.
Symbols: Fir tree, world tree, tree of knowledge, evergreens, mistletoe, holly, wintergreen, straw stars, opium poppy seedpods, fly agaric mushroom, angels, red and white, green and white.
Ritual Activities: Incense burning or smudging with herbs, drinking rituals, Jul libations, Christmas presents, gift-giving rituals.
Plant Rituals: Tree cults and the cutting of winter greens; blossom miracles (plants that bloom in midwinter); oracle plants; sowing the Barbara wheat.
Adapted from Pagan Christmas by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling (Inner Traditions, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Pagan Christmas by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling (Inner Traditions, 2003).