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 2022 Winter Solstice date is on December 22 in China, and in 2023 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.

 Read more When is the Winter Solstice? Date: December 21 to 23

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.

 See also What is Winter Solstice? - The Shortest Day of the Year

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?

This Winter Solstice fact seems to disobey the laws of nature but it is the truth. After that day, although the sun shines longer and longer on Northern Hemisphere, it does not get warm gradually. This is because seas release a very large amount of heat when the earth’s temperature drops, and the ocean accounts for 70% of the Earth’s surface, which causes the earth’s receiving solar energy from the Sun is much less than the lost energy of the seas, so the weather in the Northern Hemisphere is getting colder and colder in the following more than a month.


5. It is celebrated around the world.

People in Ireland welcome the sunrise in Newgrange. In the Seattle of USA, the Feast of Winter Solstice is held by the Fremont Arts Council’s every year. The Yuzu hot spring is popular in Japan. In Iran, the Winter Solstice eve is called Yalda night and they eat a lot of fruits on this day to celebrate the Yalda Festival.
 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.

 Read more

How do Chinese people celebrate Winter Solstice?

Dongzhi Festival - Winter Solstice Festival Celebrated in China

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.

11. We are safe, surviving from the Mayan prophecy of 2012.

December 21, 2012, the Winter Solstice day in 2012, is called “the end of the world” in the Mayan prophecy. Before the day, due to the propaganda of the mass media and film companies, this prophecy spread widely and caused some fears. But we survived. The earth exists and we are all alive on this beautiful planet.
- Last updated on Apr. 28, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Winter Solstice Facts: 11 Things You Should Know
Asked by Joh from ENGLAND | Jan. 25, 2023 06:35Reply
The Earth's population is increasing, is the Earth getting heavier,?

The Earth's population is increasing, is the Earth getting heavier..mass..? Orbit around the Sun changing.?
Answers (1)
Answered by Robert | Jan. 30, 2023 18:38

According to the law of conservation of mass, the earth does not get heavier; neither the orbit around the sun.
Asked by Sandra Snapp from USA | Dec. 19, 2022 17:27Reply
Regarding solstice
If northern hemisphere has shortest day at the solstice, is both the sunrise and the sunset latest on that day measured by standard time?
Answers (1)
Answered by Fred | Dec. 22, 2022 05:37

No, there is no correlation with latest sunrise and earliest sunset at the solstice.
For example, I live in New Hampshire. The earliest sunset occurred around December 8th and the latest sunrise will be around January 4th.
The solstice marks the day the sun reaches the southern most point in its journey about the equator and is at 90 degrees to the surface of the earth over the Tropic of Capricorn at latitude -23 degrees (approx).
The solstice does mark the day of shortest daylight (longest night).
Asked by Shoismoil from AMERICA | Dec. 07, 2022 11:14Reply
What if people dug a straight hole thorught the earth
lets say were at the north pole we dig a tunnel straight through to the south pole and we can withstand the heat of the core somehow when we get out of the other end we would we fall into the sky or just be launched up and slowly fall into the sky
Answers (2)
Answered by Isaac Newton | Dec. 12, 2022 17:09

Gravity would still exist silly. You'd just come out the other side like a tunnel.
Answered by Lou | Dec. 21, 2022 15:07

You'd weigh less and less as you go towards the center of the earth until you were essentially weightless in the center. After you pass the center on your way out the other side you would gain weight until you came out the other side. There you would weigh the same as when you started. If you went in feet first at the beginning of the tunnel and did not turn around in the middle you would be standing on your head when you came out the other side. Ouch! I hope this explanation helps.

Ignore the haters. They probably have way less intelligence than you.

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