DO I DETECT A NOTE OF UNSEASONAL GRUMPINESS? said Death. NO SUGAR PIGGYWIGGY FOR YOU, ALBERT.
"I don't want any present, master," Albert sighed. "Except maybe to wake up and find it's all back to normal. Look, you know it always goes wrong when you start changing things..."
BUT THE HOGFATHER CAN CHANGE THINGS. LITTLE MIRACLES ALL OVER THE PLACE, WITH MANY A MERRY HO, HO, HO. TEACHING PEOPLE THE REAL MEANING OF HOGSWATCH, ALBERT.
"What, you mean the pigs and cattle have all been slaughtered and with any luck everyone's got enough food for the winter?"
WELL, WHEN I SAY THE REAL MEANING...
"Some wretched devil's had his head chopped off in a wood somewhere 'cos he found a bean in his dinner and now the summer's going to come back?"
NOT EXACTLY THAT, BUT...
"Oh, you mean they've chased down some poor beast and shot arrows up into their apple trees and now the shadows are going to go away?"
THAT IS DEFINITELY A MEANING, BUT I...
"Ah, then you're talking about the one where they light a bloody big bonfire to give the sun a hint and tell it to stop lurking under the horizon and do a proper day's work?"
Death paused, while the hogs hurtled over a range of hills.
YOU'RE NOT HELPING, ALBERT.
"Well, they're all the real meanings that I know."
I THINK THAT YOU COULD WORK WITH ME ON THIS.
"It's all about the sun, master. White snow and red blood and the sun. Always has been."
VERY WELL, THEN. THE HOGFATHER CAN TEACH PEOPLE THE UNREAL MEANING OF HOGSWATCH.
Albert spat over the side of the sleigh. "Hah! 'Wouldn't It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice,' eh?"
THERE ARE WORSE BATTLE CRIES.
- Terry Pratchett, Hogfather (obviously)
Also, Jeff Fecke at Shakesville makes a number of related and worthwhile points.
And with that, a very happy Solstice, everyone!