Winter Solstice

The winter solstice will take place today—Sunday, December 21, 2014—at 5:03 p.m. Central Standard Time.

During the December Solstice, the Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. The Solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees, that is, when the North Pole is tilted furthest—23.5 degrees—away from the Sun.  For us, that will take place at 5:03 p.m.  Today, then, is the shortest day of the year for us.  For those in the Southern Hemisphere, today is the longest day of the year; their shortest day (today) is equivalent to our Summer Solstice in June, which not coincidentally is our longest day.

We sometimes assume the Winter Solstice always takes place on December 21. December 21 is the most common date, but December 22 is fairly commonly the date of the Winter Solstice; next year and again in 2019 the Solstice will be on December 22. It rarely takes place on December 20 (the next one on that date will be in 2080) and infrequently takes place on December 23 (the last time was in 1903); I could not find information on the year in which the next one on that date will be.

The celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice include Christmas (the date for which is said by some to have been selected to offset pagan celebrations of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti). According to, “Christmas is also referred to as Yule, which may have derived from the Norse word jól, referring to the pre-Christian winter solstice festival. Yule is also known as Alban Arthan and was one of the “Lesser Sabbats” of the Wiccan year in a time when ancient believers celebrated the rebirth of the Sun God and days with more light. This took place annually around the time of the December solstice and lasted for 12 days. The Lesser Sabbats fall on the solstices and equinoxes.”

So, there you have a bit of information about the Winter Solstice.  There’s far more to know, but I’m moving on to something else more suited to my mood at the moment.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Nature, Time. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Winter Solstice

  1. Trisha says:

    I like this elaborate information, John. You have taught me many new things, I was only aware of the basis.

    To be honest, I wish more could read what you’ve written here.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.