An hour and a half ago in this time zone, winter began in the northern hemisphere. How do we know so accurately when winter begins? The lights God created for "signs and seasons," Genesis 1:14, are our timekeepers.
Solstice (from the Latin words for sun and stand) happens twice a year. The sun appears to stand still for one day before changing direction. Of course, the sun doesn't really stop. The solstice is simply one point along earth's journey around the sun. The tilt of earth's axis relative to the sun makes the apparent stop and change of direction. Winter begins at the point in the sun's journey when it again heads north. Our days begin to lengthen.
Earth's earliest astronomers carefully observed the lights, and the winter solstice became a time of celebration symbolizing the return of light after darkness. Solstice is celebrated in pagan religions, particularly Saturnalia and the chief feast of Mithras. The Jewish people have a festival of lights, though Chanukah is not tied to solstice. Christians also celebrate the coming of Light into darkness, again not tied to solstice.
However, in the year 2 BC, Saturnalia, the feast of Mithras, and Chanukah came on the same day. It was that night that Jupiter stopped to begin its retrograde motion—the moment at which the magi from the East saw it standing over Bethlehem, when they entered the house and presented their gifts to the longed for Savior and King of the universe. It was December 25.
". . . Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God," John 3:19-21.