The Winter Solstice
(A_TAIGA/ISTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES)
What Is the Winter Solstice?
- The winter solstice occurs during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter season and is the day with the least amount of daylight. The solstice also has the longest amount of nightfall and the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. Because of this, it is also known as “the longest night” and “the shortest day” of the year.
- This year, in 2019, the solstice is set to occur on December 21st-22nd.
- The winter solstice usually marks the first day of winter in the United States but varies in different countries depending their specific climate.
- Stonehenge (the pre-historic monument in England) was built to align with the setting sun during the winter solstice. To collect Spartan and the Green Egg’s Stonehenge travel pin and to learn more about the magnificent structure, visit the website.
How is the Winter Solstice Celebrated and Why?
- Ancient cultures thought of the solstice as a time of death and rebirth. Because of the long, cold night, freezing temperatures were a very real threat to safety and well-being, while the end of the solstice offered the hope of renewed sunlight and longer days. Fires were lit and yule logs burned while people feasted on freshly slaughtered animals to last them through the winter months.
- Alban Arthan is a seasonal festival that was celebrated by the ancient Druids during the Winter solstice. It honors the death of the “Old Sun” and birth of the “New Sun.”
- Ancient Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a festival called “Saturnalia” to honor the agricultural god, Saturn. This festival was later replaced by Christmas throughout the Roman Empire.
- People around the world light bonfires, have feasts, wear masks, and sing and dance to honor the solstice.
To learn more about the winter solstice and various festivals celebrated around the world consult these websites mentioned in the blog: