Winter solstice is when the Sun is at its south most distance from the celestial equator. In the northern latitudes of the Earth, that means the sun is in the lowest position and we have the shortest day of the year. This year, the Winter solstice is on December 21.
The celestial poles and equator affect Winter Solstice
During the course of the year, the earth completes one orbit around the Sun. From Earth, it looks like the Sun moves from North to South across the sky. This is not to be confused with its daily path of East to West. The Winter solstice occurs exactly when the tilt of the earth’s axis is farthest away from the sun. The actual Winter Solstice lasts for an instant in time then the Sun appears to start moving back the way it came.
Winter Solstice: Last of the shrinking daylight hours.
With the Winter solstice comes the end of the shortening of days and lengthens of nights. The word Solstice comes from a combination of the Latin word sol (sun) and sister (to stand still).
Winter Solstice: A Historic Celebration
Since historic times, cultures around the world have tracked the Sun on it’s annual path. Stonehenge in Britain and New Grange in Ireland are examples of of the Neolithic and Bronze Age’s desire to track the Sun. This is thought to mark the seasons. Starvation was prominent during the winter between January and April. Thus, the Winter solstice was probably used to mark the time to slaughter cattle and other livestock to keep from feeding them through the winter.
Winter Solstice: Celebrating today to improve health
Celebrating the winter solstice continues today throughout many cultures. As this is the darkest time of year in the northern hemisphere of the Earth, there is scientific data to support that the insufficient sunlight increases the secretion of melatonin in the body which throws of the circadian rhythm. This means you will want to sleep more during the winter. There are also psychological effects tied to coldness, tiredness, malaise and inactivity.
The best way to counteract the Winter solstice is with exercise and light therapy. Increased negative ion exposure can reinvigorate the body and help to relieve the winter blues. Thus, many winter solstice festivals involve evergreens, bright lights, and large fires, feasting and being with those you love. Singing and dancing can also help to relive the conditions of the Winter Solstice.
The Winter solstice does not occur on every December 21. Occasionally, it falls on the 20th every few years. This is due to the fact that the Earth’s orbit around the sun takes 365.2422 days to complete. Leap year helps to keep Winter Solstice in check.
Definition of Winter Solstice with Drawings