Winter Solstice 2023: Here's Everything To Know About Shortest Day Of The Year

The word "solstice" derives from 'sol', the Latin word for sun and, 'sistere', which means "to come to a stop or make stand".

Winter Solstice 2023: Here's Everything To Know About Shortest Day Of The Year

This year, winter solstice falls on December 22, the first day of winter. (Representative pic)

As the year progresses towards its close, an important global moment is on the way. On Friday, we'll celebrate the shortest day of the year, known as the winter solstice. The word "solstice" derives from 'sol', the Latin word for sun and, 'sistere', which means "to come to a stop or make stand". This year, winter solstice falls on December 22, the first day of winter. It will arrive on the same day globally. It occurs when the sun reaches its lowest or highest point in the sky during the year as a result of the Earth's axis tilting to or away from the sun.

According to The Independent, for people who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day of the year will occur on Friday, with roughly 7 hours and 14 minutes of daylight. The solstice will begin on 4:44pm GMT on 22 December, when the Earth is at its maximum tilt, 23.5 degrees, away from the sun. The winter solstice will be observed in India on Friday at approximately 8:57 am.  

For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the opposite case. On Friday, they will mark the one day of the year with the longest period of sunlight. 

Why is winter solstice celebrated? 

According to Forbes, the solstice marks a pivotal moment in the sun's apparent movement.  "On this day, the sun's path seems to pause and change direction, a phenomenon that gives rise to the term 'solstice'," said Dr Minjae Kim, Research Fellow, Department of Physics, University of Warwick in the UK. "This apparent standstill occurs as the sun reaches its southernmost point against the backdrop of stars," they explained.

Historically, the winter solstice has been of great importance to many cultures as it often marks the passing seasons and a possible time of rebirth. According to The Independent, in northern Europe, people have long celebrated the event, which became known as Yule. In addition to mistletoe and 12 days of festivities, several Christmas traditions, such as Yule logs and decorating trees, date back to Yule, which were later adopted and adapted by Christians.

How to observe winter solstice

A good way to mark the event is to watch the sun rise and set on the day of solstice. The most popular annual tradition sees people gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise. Another way is to simply go outside after dark, and do some stargazing. 

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