Winter Solstice Facts: 11 Things You Should Know
Winter Solstice is a day with shortest daytime and longest night time in Northern Hemisphere. Besides this, there are many other interesting Winter Solstice facts you should know.
1. Winter Solstice is not always the same day.
The first Winter Solstice fact you should know is that its date can be December 21, 22 or 23 of the year. The 2021 Winter Solstice date is on December 21 in China, and in 2022 it falls on December 22.
Winter Solstice is when the sun shines directly with 90 degrees on Tropic of Cancer, which happens every 365.24219 days, the time for the earth orbits the sun for one circle. But there are 365 days or 366 days in a year which is longer or shorter than the actual time for one earth revolution, causing the date to change slightly every year.
2. Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere.
What is Winter Solstice? For the Northern Hemisphere, it is the day of the year when the sun is at its lowest height at noon as well as the shortest day of the year. The daytime lasts 7 hours and 49 minutes in London, 9 hours and 15 minutes in New York, and 9 hours and 20 minutes in Beijing. On this day, the Northern Hemisphere receives the least amount of solar energy, about 50% less than the Southern Hemisphere. At this time, the Southern Hemisphere is in the midst of the hot summer.
It is worth noting that around the Winter Solstice, the Earth is located near the perihelion and runs slightly faster, which causes the sun to be in the Southern Hemisphere for about 8 days less than in the Northern Hemisphere during the year, so the winter in the Northern Hemisphere is slightly shorter than in the summer.
3. Polar night occurs in the whole Arctic Circle.
The Northern Hemisphere experiences the longest night of the year on Winter Solstice. After the Autumn Equinox around September 23rd, polar night starts to occur near the North Pole. Since then, the area covered by polar night near the North Pole becomes larger and larger and reaches its maximum on the Winter Solstice and the border even reaches the Arctic Circle. After, the polar night near the Arctic gradually becomes smaller and finally disappears around March 21st, the Spring Equinox day.
4. Do you know that days get colder but not warmer after Winter Solstice?
5. It is celebrated around the world.
Read more 10 Interesting Winter Solstice Traditions around the World
6. Yule Festival started from the Winter Solstice.
December 25th was “the Sun’s Day” of ancient Rome, after which the sun shined longer and longer to bring people light and warmth. On this day, people would burn a tree, which symbolizes the sun, and smash around the burning tree to celebrate the return of the sun. In Christianism, when Jesus came to the world, it meant that “warm” and “light” came to the world, so people made December 25th the birthday of Jesus, which is the Yule Festival.
7. Winter Solstice was first found in China 2,500 years ago.
In the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC) about 2,500 years ago, China had applied the ancient instrument called Tugui for measuring the length of the sun shadow, to affirm the day with longest night and shortest daytime, which is Winter Solstice.
Read more 2,500 Years’ History of Winter Solstice in China
8. Winter Solstice is an important one in the 24 Solar Terms in East Asia.
24 solar terms is the laws of climate change that the ancient Chinese summed up by observing the sun movement to govern agricultural activities. It originated in China and gradually spread to East Asia such as Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. The Winter Solstice is the 22nd of the 24 solar terms in Chinese lunar calendar, but it is the first to be found and established.
9. Winter Solstice is celebrated as Dongzhi Festival in China.
In China, it is called Dongzhi, a traditional festival once as important as Chinese New Year. Why is the Winter Solstice so important in China? The ancients believed that the Donzhi was a lucky day since when the sun became more and more active, indicating the terrible past was gone and another new year full of hope was coming. A lot of celebrations would be held on that day, including worshiping the Heaven and ancestors, northern Chinese eating dumplings and southerners eating glutinous rice balls. Many of the traditions have been preserved till today.
10. The word “Solstice” derives from Latin, meaning “Sun stands still”.
The term solstice derives from the Latin word “sōlstitium”, meaning “the Sun stands still”. On Winter Solstice, the Sun reaches its southern-most position and shines directly on the Tropic of Capricorn, seeming to stand still there. When the sun “stands still” on the Tropic of Cancer, it is Summer Solstice.