From the recording To Warm The Winter's Night
This is a very beautiful poem by Susan Cooper which celebrates the Winter Solstice. While the Solstices were not as important to the ancient Irish as the major fire festivals; Lughnasadh (August 1); Beltane (May Day, May 1); Imbolc (February 1- Bridgit); and Samhain (November 1, Halloween), they were none the less celebrated. Of the Solstices and Equinoxes, the Winter Solstice was the most important, since it marked the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day. Many cultures celebrated this time to commemorate the birth of various gods. The Winter Solstice falls between two major fire festivals Samhain (sow-an) or Halloween and Imbolc.
In Newgrange, County Meath, there is an ancient tomb covered with beautiful artwork (the double spiral on this site is one of the symbols from Newgrange). Once a year, at the Winter Solstice, the tomb fills with light and the beautiful artwork can be seen. While it seems best to leave it's origins to the historians, there is no doubt that the ancient Irish considered this day important.
It also marked "The Shortest Day" or "The Darkest Midnight" and was cause for celebration, since - once the shortest day has passed, it meant the journey toward Spring could begin.