Celebrations at the time of the winter solstice have been universal in almost every culture on the planet. It is seen as the rising of the new sun. In ancient Rome, this was celebrated as Saturnalia, which means it was about Saturn, the god of agriculture and food. In southern India, even today, the celebration of Makar Sankranti is one of the most important festivals in a year for the agricultural communities. In Rome, Saturnalia was a holiday – people gave gifts; no war could be declared on this day, and masters and slaves swapped their positions. In India, even today, men and women swap their positions at that time – men will be singing, women will be drawing complex geometric patterns in the form of Rangoli.
In lands like Central Asia and China, such celebrations were also prevalent. These traditions were destroyed in Europe and other parts of the world with the advent of Christianity. The ancient Egyptians always saw that during this month, the line between the physical and the spiritual is thin, or the two are brought close together.