The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter: they rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them, and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight. The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and when the wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.