Year-end celebrations in which masters acted as slaves and slaves acted as if they were masters became popular in several regions of the Mediterranean.
During the midwinter festival Makar Sankranti, Hindus bathe in rivers such as the Ganges (Ganga) and offer water to the Sun god.
Makar (Makara) means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition, so the festival celebrates the transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn, and the ascendancy of the Sun god into the Northern Hemisphere.
Although this holiday was originally a celebration of Spring, it was later celebrated in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt and was called Passover.
The holiday entered Christian celebration by the fact that Christ was reputedly arrested and crucified at Passover.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs around December 21st, when the Sun is at its greatest distance below the celestial equator.
The Spring Equinox occurs around March 21st when the sun crosses the celestial equator, and days have the same duration as nights ("equinox" comes from a Latin word meaning "time of equal days and nights").
Their own king was to be slain so that he could assist Marduk in the spirit world.
But to preserve the king, a criminal was made into a mock king, who was treated as if he was a king until he was slain.
(Scholars disagree on whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal.) Because Christians insisted that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday, the Council of Nicea decreed that Easter be the first Sunday after the fourteenth day of a lunar month (Paschal Full Moon, which is approximately the first full moon) following the date of the Spring Equinox (which is often incorrectly assumed to be March 21st).
Easter can occur on any date from March 22nd to April 25th.
Lighted candles and winter fires were used by sun-worshippers to encourage the rebirth of the Sun (as if some feared that days would continue to get shorter until the Sun ceased to return).