Solstice greetings - frohe Sonnenwende!
We know the words Jul,Jol and Yule are connected with the old Germanic words for wheel - thus the yearly cycle. But the Nordic word Jol is also the root of the word Jolly!
Today is just the start of the solstice period. For three days the sun 'stands still' meaning there is no visible distinction in the length of light- solstice means Sol-still. Sol is a Germanic name for the sun as well as a Latin name. To us Saxon folk she is Sunna. It is on the forth day, typically christmas day - that there is any noticeable change in the length of light and the Sun is reborn. It is easy to see how the church converted this to the birth of the Son. And it is why so many pagan gods are born on this day - as they are sun gods. So in one aspect christmas is the true first day of the year, or at least the Solar year. The church also referred to their messiah as 'Lord' which made excepting christianity even easier as the pagan folk already had a god amongst their own - Frey, whose name meant Lord. In the Gothic translations of the bible Jesus was called Frauja, again the same name was used for Frey. The christmas roast boar (or pork) is a continuation of his worship.
Today the churches are empty, but the traditions of Easter and Christmas remain. It is true they are not much more than materialistic rituals of shopping and self indulgence today, but underneath all this corruption we can still find the true origins of these holidays in our heathen past. This is why they still survive. The Call of the Blood is still there, folk will hear that call, and folk will answer that call. The Sun is reborn, and she will light our way!