Finding Light on the Darkest Day: The Winter Solstice & Yuletide

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Druid leader Arthur Uther Pendragon, right, looks up as people face east to watch the sunrise by the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge on the annual Winter Solstice, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.

It's widely known that the modern celebration of Christmas has its origins in Pagan traditions. The Roman Saturnalia was celebrated by exchanging gifts and candles. But there's much more to the story than that. On this week’s Please Explain, we’re looking at the pagan origins of holiday traditions rooted in the celebration of the Winter Solstice. Linda Raedisch, author of The Old Magic of Christmas:Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year, discusses the history, folklore, traditions, botany and recipes of yuletide and explains why they linger in our modern holiday celebrations.

Have questions about Christmas traditions and the Winter Solstice? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!