The most universally celebrated festival with roots in Pagan Tradition is that of Midwinter at the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. The shortest day and the longest night of the year, it has been recognized as a significant turning point in the yearly cycle since the late Stone Age. The ancient megalithic sites of Newgrange and Stonehenge, carefully aligned with the solstice sunrise and sunset, exemplify this.The reversal of the Sun's ebbing presence in the sky symbolizes the rebirth of the solar god and presages the return of fertile seasons. From Germanic to Roman tradition, this is the most important time of celebration. This liminal festival is followed by eleven days of extended celebration (known as Yuletide) in Germanic tradition, from which the Twelve days of Christmas was later derived in Christianity. In Old England, the Twelfth Night of Yuletide marked the end of the period which began at Samhain. Krampus, the Lord of Misrule, symbolizes the world turning upside down at this time of year.
Yule practices vary, but sacrifices, feasting, and gift giving are common elements of Midwinter festivities. Bringing sprigs and wreaths of evergreenery (such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, yew, and pine) into the home and tree decorating are also common during this time.
This liminal festival is followed by eleven days of extended celebration in Germanic tradition. In Roman tradition additional festivities take place during the six days leading up to Midwinter. The celebration of Christmas during approximately the same time is the result of early Christianity's adaptations of popular pre-Christian festivals concerning the winter solstice.