The First Day Of Winter: Winter Solstice 2023 — When And What Is It?

What Does Winter Solstice Mean?

Regardless of the weather outside your window, the official start of winter marks the solstice. In terms of daylight, we have the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the Sun reaches the astronomical moment of the Tropic of Capricorn.

What does the winter weather have in store? Check out our extended forecast!

What is the Definition of “Solstice”?

The term “solstice” comes from the Latin words “sol” and “sistere,” which mean the Sun appears to stand still during the angle between Earth’s equator plane and the Sun’s rays.

What exactly does “Rebirth” mean? Many cultures believe that the winter solstice marks the gradual decrease of daylight hours and the reversal of the Sun’s elevation in the sky. It seems that the Sun stays at the same elevation during noontime and appears at its lowest in the sky during the winter solstice for several days.

They will continue to grow longer until we reach the summer solstice in June. The start of the longer days marks December 21st. In terms of daylight, June is the longest day of the year, with each day since the last summer solstice slightly shorter, as the period between sunset and sunrise decreases.

Being tilted away from the Sun brings colder temperatures and shorter days to us. Our half is inclined away from the Sun, just as their half is inclined toward it. While we celebrate the winter solstice, those living in the Southern Hemisphere will mark the arrival of summer.

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Historians believe that Stonehenge, which was built in England, was erected to keep track of the yearly progress of the Sun. During different times of the year and throughout the day, early man observed the Sun’s shadows cast across the sky and believed that it “moved,” thus keeping track of the days.

Winter Solstice Customs: Folktales and Festivities

Here are some examples. In fact, many of the rituals, symbols, customs, and lore associated with Christmas are actually associated with ancient Pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. The Winter Solstice has played an important role in cultures worldwide from ancient times until today.

Winter Solstice

The festival of Arthan Alban, also known as the Winter Solstice, is associated with Stonehenge. When the Winter Solstice arrives, the chamber inside Stonehenge is flooded with sunlight as the Sun rises. Built around 3200 B.C. In Ireland, Newgrange is an ancient monument consisting of a large circular mound with interior chambers and a stone passageway. It is believed that the birth of the New Sun revives the mystical aura of the Earth, giving new life to the souls and spirits of the dead. This moment marks the birth of the New Year, while the death of the Old Sun occurs on the Winter Solstice, which takes place at dawn on December 22nd (dusk on December 21st). In Druidic traditions, the Winter Solstice is seen as a time of rebirth and death, where our own souls and the powers of Nature are renewed. Arthan Alban, also known as the “Winter of Light” in Welsh, is likely the oldest seasonal festival of humankind and is still celebrated by many people.

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The Celebration of Juul

Fires linked to the Celebration of Juul started with these fires, and the current tradition of igniting a Yule log during Christmas is believed to have originated from these fires. French peasants would place the cooled remains from the log under their beds, believing that it would safeguard the house against thunder and lightning. The ashes were then gathered and spread in the fields as fertilizer each night until Twelfth Night, or worn as a charm around the neck. In England, Germany, France, and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until only ash remained. The log, which was never allowed to burn completely, was kept as a symbol of good fortune and used as kindling for the following year’s log. It was the responsibility of Thor to bring back the warmth of the Sun to the people, and a Yule–or Juul–log was brought in and burned on the hearth to honor the Scandinavian god, Thor. This was a festival observed in Scandinavia, where fires were lit to represent the warmth, light, and life-giving properties of the returning Sun.

Dongzhi Winter Solstice Celebration

Dongzhi Tang Yuan Sweet Dumplings in a bowl.

Dumplings are typically consumed. It should be celebrated, as this day signifies the increasing strength of positive things, or yang, according to ancient Chinese thought. Winter Solstice Festival, also known as Dongzhi, is celebrated as a time for the entire family to come together and commemorate the passing of a good year. In addition, it incorporates traditions from western cultures.


Black and white painting of a group of men celebrating Saturnalia in Rome.

The customs of some festival’s surrounding celebrations, such as the New Year and Christmas, have been influenced by the Roman Empire’s rule under the Christian faith. The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the fourth and third centuries AD. During this festival, people engaged in festivities similar to a carnival, wars were postponed, and quarrels and grudges were forgiven. It was a celebration characterized by the reversal of the usual order and the suspension of discipline, in honor of Saturnus, the Roman god of harvest and agriculture. Known as Saturnalia, this winter solstice festival lasted for seven days and began on December 17 in Ancient Rome.

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Were You Aware?

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you will see the longest shadow at noontime around the time of the solstice. This is because the Sun is at a different angle, causing longer shadows to be cast across objects in the sky. In June, during the summer solstice, you will see the shortest shadow at noontime.

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