One thing I noticed over the holy-days was that a surprising number of people, on twitter and elsewhere, wishing one another a happy Solstice. I'm not even talking about Pagans - Buddhists, agnostics, the non-religious, and those whose affiliations I do not know. Some suggested to one another activities like lighting a fire or going out to dance in the snow.
It was strange, and for some reason quite gratifying. This of course is a religious festival for me, and for many of us, and it's very pleasing to see people for whom it is not a religious festival still getting into, shall we say, the spirit of the season, and feeling moved to do something, to say "Happy Solstice", even if it's not, for them, a religious holiday.
The great George Carlin once said that if he was going to worship anything, it would be the sun. You can see it, it gives you food, warmth and light, and without it you would die. (Sounds good to me.) But in a way he has a point... whether or not you consider this a religious celebration, the Solstice exists regardless. It's an astronomical time that you don't need to be religious to mark and celebrate if you feel like it; the sun exists for atheists as much as it does for people who worship sun deities, or whose religious festivals are linked to the movement of the sun through the sky.
Seeing so many different people taking note of the Solstice and pointing it out - along with good wishes and salutations! - to others of myriad different religions and lack thereof really gives me hope that in the future, we can all celebrate the Solstice as a secular holiday as well as a religious one.
How cool would that be?