Astronomers say the winter solstice is the day the sun seems to stand still before starting its journey toward the northern sky once again.
The San Francisco Examiner notes some groups, including the growing numbers of those who embrace ancient pagan values, mark the day with special events.
For example, Eric Davis -- who also goes by the name "Shaman Hugging Bear" -- will lead a ceremony Monday night around an outdoor fireplace at CenterPoint, a California spiritual education center.
The ceremony will focus on how people can make the changes they want in their lives. After drum meditation, people will write their wishes on a piece of paper and throw the paper into the fire.
But KIRO-TV in Seattle says probably the most popular pagan celebration of the winter solstice is Yule, which has been celebrated for centuries and continues today, mostly by members of the Wiccan religion.
Wiccans celebrate Yule to honor the start of winter, a new sun, and a new year.