What You Need to Know About The Winter Solstice

by Rachel Collins

Did you know that today we are celebrating the Winter Solstice? The word solstice translates roughly to “sun stands still,” which is so fitting seeing as in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the darkest day of the year. The solstice particularly occurs at a specific time of day, which is when the North Pole is aimed furthest away from the sun on the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

This year, New York City will experience 9 hours and 15 minutes of sunlight on the day of the solstice. However, regions that are situated farther north, will experience even less sunlight on this ‘shortest day of the year,’ totaling at 5 hours and 49 minutes in Helsinki, Finland and no sunrise at all in Barrow, Alaska! 

Throughout the course of history, some ancient cultures considered the winter solstice as a time of rebirth. Cultural traditions including lit fires and burned Yule logs symbolized the welcoming back of the light. In particular, this solstice is so special because afterwards there will be a full moon as well as a visible Ursid meteor shower.

An interesting theory about the solstice is that Stonehenge is aligned to the sunset on the winter solstice! However, there are other theorists out there that believe that the monument was constructed along natural features that happened to align with it. People all over the world visit Stonehenge on the solstice for a celebration of the occasion! Known as the shortest day of the year, celebrate this solstice as a new beginning! In preparation for the holidays, this is a great time to reflect and recharge for the new year.