This article was updated on December 21, 2020
The Winter Solstice is celebrated in festivals and rituals by many cultures. It marks the beginning of winter, and once it happens the days start getting longer, which is good news for those who experience winter gloom. Here are 5 things to know about 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.
- In 2020, the Winter Solstice will occur in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21st at 5:02 EST. Some say, “The Winter Solstice is the time of ending and beginning, a powerful time — a time to contemplate your immortality. A time to forgive, to be forgiven, and to make a fresh start. A time to awaken.”
- Interestingly enough, the Southern Hemisphere welcomes the summer at the same time that the Northern Hemisphere welcomes the winter.
- 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 afterward 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 with 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.