December Solstice

December Solstice

Occurring on either December 21 or December 22, the December Solstice is the winder solstice for the Northern Hemisphere, which signals the first day of winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, the solstice signals the first day of summer and is the summer solstice. This means that the Earth’s South Pole will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude.

It is possible for the winter solstice to happen on either December 20 or 23, but they are far less common. The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303. The next solstice to occur on the 20th will be in 2080.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the December Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and marks the first day of astronomical winter. It is at this point that the length of the days starts to increase and the length of the night decreases until the June Solstice.

There are many different cultures that have unique celebrations for the December Solstice period. The pre-Christian festival called the Feast of Juul was observed in Scandinavia at this time. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was held around this time as well. In Poland, the ancient observance before Christianity involved people showing forgiveness and sharing food and lives on in a tradition known today as Gody. In the northwestern corner of Pakistan, a festival called Chaomos takes place among the Kalasha or Kalash Kafir people, which lasts for 7 days and overlaps with the solstice.

References and Further Reading

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