In the past six months the days have become shorter, while the nights have become larger across the Northern Hemisphere. But this trend is set to reverse itself.
Winter solstice 2022, also known as the most short day of the year and the official start of winter, falls on the 21st of December, a Wednesday (well it is for a good portion of the world anyway). How it all works has intrigued the public for centuries.
We’ll first explore the scientific basis and the precise timing of the solstice. Then , we’ll look into some ancient customs and celebrations from around the globe.
The scientific and time-based reasons for the winter solstice
The winter solstice will be the most short holiday of the season for the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun is at its southest position directly overhead , at the Tropic of Capricorn.
The reverse is true for the Southern Hemisphere, where only 10 percent of the population of the world. The solstice of December is as the longest day in the worldand also the start of summer, in countries like Argentina, Madagascar, New Zealand and South Africa.
What exactly is the time it happens?
The solstice generally however, but not always occurs on the 21st day of December. The time at which solstice is observed can change due to the fact that the solar year (the length of time it takes the sun to return to the same location when observed from Earth) does not exactly match with the calendar year.
If you’re trying to be extremely precise with what you observe, then the precise date of the winter solstice in 2022 will be 21.48 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Wednesday, as per EarthSky.org along with the Farmers’ Almanac. It’s nearly six hours earlier than the time last year.
Below are a few examples of times when 21:48 UTC would be for various local time zones all over the world. Due to time zone differences most of Asia will celebrate the solstice of winter on Thursday, the 22nd of December.
- Tokyo 6.48 a.m. Thursday
- Hanoi, Vietnam: 4:48 a.m. Thursday
- New Delhi: 3:18 a.m. Thursday
- Istanbul 12.48 a.m. Thursday
- Jerusalem: 11:48 p.m. Wednesday
- Copenhagen, Denmark: 10:48 p.m. Wednesday
- Charlotte, North Carolina: 4:48 p.m. Wednesday
- Winnipeg, Manitoba: 3:48 p.m. Wednesday
- San Francisco: 1:48 p.m. Wednesday
- Honolulu: 11:48 a.m. Wednesday
Which places experience the effects of winter solstice most?
The amount of daylight decreases dramatically as you get closer to that North Pole on December 21.
People living in the tropical Singapore which is located 137 kilometers or 85 miles to the north of the equator, don’t notice the difference. They have just nine minutes less daylight than they do at the time of the summer solstice. It’s a 12 hour day, with the exception of some minutes, year round there.
The city is higher up in the latitude. Paris nevertheless manages to squeeze in an average of 8 hours, 14 minutes light for a pleasant walks along Seine.
The stark contrast is evident in cold Oslo, Norway, where the sun rises around 9:18 a.m. and sunset around 3:12 p.m. This means just six or so hours of daylight. Sun lamp Anyone?
The residents of Nome, Alaska, will be more deficient in sunlight with only three hours and 51 minutes and 30 seconds poor daylight. However, that’s quite generous when as compared to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It is located inside the Arctic Circle and won’t see any sunrays.
What is the reason for winter solstice?
Since Earth is tilted around its axis of rotation and we experience changing seasons. As the Earth rotates towards the Sun, every part of the hemisphere experiences winter, in which it is tilted away from the sun, and the summer season when it’s inclined towards the sun.
Hold for dear life! What is it that makes that the Earth tilted?
Scientists aren’t sure what caused this However, they believe that millions in years back, while the solar system took form and the Earth was the target of violent collisions, which caused the axis of the Earth to tilt.
What other seasonal changes do we celebrate?
The equinoxes in spring and autumn, take place when the sun’s rays pass directly above the equator. These two days, everybody enjoys a roughly equal amount of night and day. The solstice of summer is time when sun’s beams are at their most north of the Tropic of Cancer, giving us the longest days and also the official beginning of season for the Northern Hemisphere.
Traditions and celebrations of the winter solstice.
There’s no reason to be surprised that the many religions and cultures celebrate the holidays — whether it’s the Christmas season, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan holidays — that coincides with the arrival of longer days.
Ancient peoples who’s survival was based on an accurate understanding of the cycles of seasons marked the beginning in winter by elaborate celebrations and celebrations. In spiritual terms, these celebrations represent the chance to renew.
“Christmas takes many of its customs and probably its date on the calendar from the pagan Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Kalends,” Maria Kennedy Assistant Professor within the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University.
Saturnalia began on December 17 and Kalends began on January 1st, said Kennedy who is a specialist in Christmas-related research.
Based on research from academics, Kennedy said early founders of the Christian church were against the practice of these celebrations, but their appeal remained. Christian celebrations of Christmas eventually coincided with the same date in the calendar, even though there’s no date specified by the Gospels for the birth of Jesus.
Here’s more about some of the traditional customs from the past:
The Welsh dialect, “Alban Arthan” means to mean “Light of Winter,” according to the Farmers Almanac. It could be the oldest celebration of the season for humans. It is a part of Druidic customs The winter solstice is believed to be a time of rebirth and death.
Newgrange is a prehistoric landmark that was constructed in Ireland about 3200 BC It is connected to an event called the Alban Arthan festival.
It was in Ancient Rome, Saturnalia lasted for seven days. It was a celebration of Saturn who was the Roman god of agriculture.
The population enjoyed carnival-like events similar to the modern Mardi Gras celebrations and even stopped their conflict-making. The slaves were granted temporary liberty, and moral limitations were relaxed. Saturnalia continued throughout the fourth and third centuries AD.
It’s not only the ancient Europeans who celebrated the holiday annually. This year’s Dongzhi Winter Solstice Festival has its origins in the an ancient Chinese culture. The word “dongzhi” roughly translates to “extreme of winter.”
They believed it was the peak of the concept of yin (from Chinese medicine theory). Yin is a symbol of darkness, stillness and cold, hence the longest winter day. Dongzhi is the time of the return of Yang -and the gradual rise of warmth and light. Dumplings are often consumed to celebrate celebrations in certain East Asian cultures.
A variety of countries around the globe are known to have traditional festivals which celebrate this winter solstice. Some of them include:
More famous for pirates as well as the solstice, this town in Penzance located on the coast to the south of England has revived the enchanting tradition of the Cornish procession, complete with mask-wearing, dancing, singing, and much more.
The most well-known place in the United Kingdom of solstice festivities is Stonehenge. On the winter solstice tourists typically walk into the imposing mysterious stone circle for an early morning ceremony that is run by local druid and pagan groups.
The English Heritage Society says the 2022 celebration will take place on December 22, on a Thursday. The event will be streamed live through the organization’s YouTube channel.
In Canada Vancouver’s Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is an enthralling celebration of solstice customs which are celebrated across Vancouver’s Granville Island, Strathcona and Yaletown neighbourhoods.