It is officially winter, and the days will finally start to get longer as the northern hemisphere marks the Winter Solstice.
So, what exactly is the Winter Solstice? According to NASA, it’s when the northern hemisphere is furthest away from the sun. It brings the shortest day and longest night of the year for people living in the northern half of the globe. This is because the earth rotates on a tilt. During the winter months, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun.
Many people think of the Winter Solstice as a day-long event, but it lasts only a minute. The precise moment that the northern hemisphere is farthest from the sun occurred at 10:59 am ET.
On the Winter Solstice, the time of day when the sun is at its highest point in the sky is later. This is called the “true solar noon.”
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This means that after Tuesday, each day will get slightly longer until we reach the Summer Solstice in June. It’s often thought that the earliest sunset is on the Winter Solstice, but this isn’t true. The earliest sunset actually occurred on December 7, according to The Old Farmers’ Almanac. Since the true solar noon is later on the solstice, so too are the sunrise and sunset.
In a year as tough as this one, the Winter Solstice is a chance to welcome the start of astronomical winter, celebrate the lengthening days, and feast your heart out like our ancestors once did.
Many ancient cultures celebrated the solstices and equinoxes with feasts, gift giving and “general merrymaking,” according to The Old Farmers’ Almanac. Cultures all over the world would ring in the new season with various celebrations.
Ancient structures like Stonehenge reveal just how important the changing of the seasons were to ancient cultures. Many cultures continue to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes today.
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Many solstice celebrations in Canada this year have been cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases, but if you were looking for a sign to feast on your favourite fare tonight, consider this that sign.
Rejoice because the days will soon be longer and the nights shorter!