I love the winter solstice, I always have. I can remember as a small child telling my mother that solstice came first and Christmas was picked as Jesus' birthday because it was already such an important day. I have no idea where I got that at that age.
I have always lived where there are seasons, I do not ever want to live where there are no seasons, the constant change and rebirth fuels my own life. But I also suffer from the lack of daylight as solstice approaches. Right now this region is at approximately 8 hours of daylight and 16 hours of dark, I am reaching my limit. I spend time outside no matter what the weather, but at this point I am becoming sluggish and irritable. Winter in this area is really January, February and March, but this dark time of the year is the only time I find depressing.
As solstice approaches, my body, my spirit and my very soul are crying 'enough is enough.' So I take the modern approach, print out the NOAA chart of sunrise and sunset times for my location, hang it on the refrigerator and check it everyday until spring is well under way.
I know that thousands of years ago the elders of the clans marked the travels of the sun in some way and the practice has continued today. We even still think of it as the sun returning although we know better.
Celebrating the solstice is one of the rituals that we perform each year that we can be certain that we share with pagans of long ago.