First, you have to understand the fear. For six months the days have been getting shorter. How do you know that won't just keep happening until the night becomes perpetual? Last year and other years the longer days returned. There were services and sacrifices to make sure. But what would happen if the rites weren't done, or if the priests made a mistake and God was not appeased?
Then there's the feeling of intense relief when the day does turn, and the sunset just starts to creep northwards.
Now you can celebrate. You can take a break from your labours. You can feast, and relax with strong drink. You can make special toys for the children, who get so excited at this time of year. You can decorate your home with evergreen trees and branches. You can watch the latest storytellers, or play games, or go round to your neighbours singing the special songs of winter, presenting them with gifts, and in turn accepting their presents of food and drink.
It's probably just as well Christianity and science put a stop to all that.