December Solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year, which usually occurs during December. This year it is celebrated on December 21. What is it about the winter solstice that inspires such myth and magic? The earliest people on Earth were fascinated by it. It’s safe to say we’re still smitten even today. The solstice marks the disappearance and return of the sun. And thus, celebrations can be both literal and metaphorical. No matter where you live, the solstice happens for everyone at the same time. That’s pretty magical and a reason to celebrate.
History of December Solstice
December Solstice or the Winter Solstice has always inspired mythical celebrations. The earliest humans learned to observe the sun’s path and the length of daylight. They noticed patterns of shifting sunrises and sunsets throughout the year.
To better understand the phenomenon, many ancient cultures dedicated monuments to charting the sun’s movement. Some historians believe that ‘Macchu Picchu’ in Peru and ‘Stonehenge’ in England followed the sun’s progress throughout the year. Today, we know a solstice is an ‘astronomical event’. The earth orbits around the sun at a tilt, not upright. What this means is the Northern and Southern Hemispheres take turns receiving the sun’s light directly. Thus, the earth’s tilt creates the onset of summer and winter, not our distance from the sun.
On the December Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is at the farthest away from the sun. It’s why the days become shorter and the nights become longer during this time. December Solstice marks the official beginning of winter. The solstice takes place at the same time everywhere on earth. You would need to research the exact time of the solstice per C.S.T. or U.S.T. time and calculate the difference per your time zone.
December Solstice has deep spiritual connotations too. When daylight increasingly retreats, it symbolizes a period of going within. For many cultures, this is a time of rest and introspection. At the same time, it’s also a celebration of light and the anticipation of spring. Solstice festivities differ widely across countries. It’s incredible how this astronomical phenomenon binds so many cultures. Each one has a different interpretation of this most special time of the year. No matter where you are in the world, the occurrence deserves celebration.
December Solstice timeline
The mysterious Stonehenge in England stands tall to track the sun’s yearly progress.
People in Japan take hot baths with yuzu citrus fruits and toss the fruits in hot spring waters for capybaras to enjoy.
People in Iran celebrate the winter solstice by lighting fires all night, meeting family, feasting, and reading poetry.
Machu Picchu’s ‘Intihuatana Stone’ points directly at the sun during the winter solstice, reportedly tethering the sun in its annual path across the sky.
December Solstice FAQs
What happens on the December solstice?
December Solstice or the Winter Solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. It occurs when the Earth’s axis tilts furthest away from the sun. All places north of the equator receive less than 12 hours of daylight during this time.
Why is the winter solstice so important?
Most cultures view the winter solstice as the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. It marks a significant change in season and the official start of winter.
What is the spiritual meaning of the winter solstice?
Winter solstice or December solstice is a time of reflection and rest. Both metaphorically and literally, it’s a period where we build up slowly towards sunnier days.
December Solstice Activities
Decorate a yule tree
Many Christmas traditions borrow from pagan solstice rituals. So, the chances are you’re already celebrating the December Solstice without realizing it. Decorating Christmas trees is remarkably similar to adorning traditional solstice yule trees. In ancient times, people decorated solstice trees with lights and ornaments too.
Make solstice lanterns
Make a yule lantern as a symbol of light that emanates from the fellowship of the community. It means our light can shine bright until sunlight enters our lives again.
Invite the kids for yule-inspired crafting
Make sun-shaped crafts and ornaments at home. Invite the family over and have them hang up their DIY ornaments on the Christmas tree.
5 Facts About December That Will Blow Your Mind
It was originally the tenth month
“December” is Latin for the ‘tenth month’ — which it was until Julius Caesar added two new months at the beginning of the Roman Calendar year.
A different Anglo-Saxon name
The Anglo-Saxons called December ‘Ærra Geola’ or ‘Before Yule.’
A month with the year’s unluckiest day
People consider December 28 unlucky since it coincides with when King Herod put first-born baby boys to death in an attempt to kill Jesus Christ.
What a snowy Christmas could bring
Almanac predictions say that if there’s snowfall on Christmas day, the following Easter will be sunny and warm.
Why you must propose in December
According to records, most marriage proposals happen in December, and successfully so!
Why We Love December Solstice
In anticipation of brighter days
Most winter solstice celebrations aim to release darkness in favor of light. It’s a fitting way to end the year and make way for new beginnings.
Connecting us to the universe
We love how the winter solstice means something special to people and cultures everywhere. It’s a reminder of how we’re all children of the same universe.
A time for introspection
December solstice is the ideal time to think back on the year past. Symbolically, looking inward. The sun’s absence seems to work in sync.
December Solstice dates