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Winter Solstice

Most people know that the winter solstice takes place on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere; this is the time we have the least amount of daylight hours.  Subsequently, it is often referred to as the shortest day of the year.  The solstice arrival this winter is on December 21.

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What are some other winter solstice facts?  Here are a few fun things to know.

  • The winter solstice takes place because the earth’s axial tilt is the farthest away it will be from the sun.
  • It its purest sense, the winter solstice lasts only for a moment.
  • The first day of winter and the winter solstice occur simultaneously.
  • Some people refer to the winter solstice as the longest night of the year.
  • Different cultures around the world recognize the winter solstice as a type of rebirth and hold festivities to honor the occasion.
  • Germanic people recognized the winter solstice with Yule celebrations (thus, the origin of the current Yule log tradition).
  • The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia commemorated the winter solstice with parades, celebrations, and servants temporarily trading places with their masters.
  • The nights begin to get shorter and the days begin getting longer following the winter solstice.
  • The sun appears at it lowest position in the sky during the winter solstice.  It also looks this way for a few days preceding and following the occurrence.
  • The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol and sistere.  Translated, this means something like to cause the sun to stand still.
  • This year in North America, a total lunar eclipse will coincide with the winter solstice.  This spectacular event has not happened in more than 350 years!  (Hey, if you can stay up, get out and watch!)

The winter solstice will come and go, but traditions remain alive in our hearts.  They help us stay focused, allow us to better discern the larger picture, and cast a childlike spirit in our eyes.  So, keep warm on the shortest day of the year, and Happy Holidays!