The Winter Solstice is Here!

December is full of many celebrations and events, so many that the celebration seems to last all month long. Did you know there is another reason to celebrate this time of the year? The shortest day of the year is quickly upon us! Thursday, December 21, 2017 will mark this year’s Winter Solstice.

What is the Winter Solstice, anyway? The Winter Solstice is both the shortest and the longest day of the year, depending on where you live. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. The sun is tipped at its furthest point away from the sun when the Solstice takes place. In the Southern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is taking place, making it the longest day of the year. In this way the Winter Solstice is both the longest and the shortest day of the year.

If you’re really paying attention, you will notice on the day of the solstice that the sun will be at its lowest point in the sky around noon, and will continue at its lowest point throughout the day. Daylight on the day of the solstice is expected to last for seven hours, forty nine minutes, and forty one seconds. Celebrations will be held all over the world, especially at historic sites like Stonehenge, where people gather to watch the sun’s progression across the sky and marvel at its wonders. The Winter Solstice has influenced some of the oldest traditions and holidays throughout human history, its cultural significance extending to civilizations at all corners of the Earth. Even holidays not explicitly involving the Solstice have been placed around its date, such as Saint Thomas Day, or Christmas.

If you’re bummed out by this “shortest day of the year” thing, there is some good news. The days after the solstice will get progressively longer, leading up to the Summer Solstice on June 21, 2018. Here’s to the countdown for spring to begin!

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer