Winter Solstice

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

Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice of 2023 falls on December 22nd, when the daytime will be the shortest in a year. It is celebrated worldwide. The most popular celebration in China is the Dongzhi Festival when people eat dumplings. 

What is Winter Solstice?

In astronomy, the Winter Solstice definition is when the sun shines directly with 90 degrees on Tropic of Cancer and the Northern Hemisphere has the shortest day of the year. After that, the days in Northern Hemisphere gradually get longer and the nights get shorter. Due to this, this day was set as festivals in many places around the world to celebrate the return of the sun, like Dongzhi in China and Yule in north Europe.    
 Read more: Winter Solstice Facts: 11 Things You Should Know

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

Year Date of Winter Solstice
2023 December 22
2024 December 21
2025 December 21
2026 December 22
2027 December 22
2028 December 21

How long is Winter Solstice? How many hours of daylight on Winter Solstice? The Winter Solstice date fluctuates. It usually falls on December 21st, 22nd or 23rd, hence someone call it December Solstice. What's the shortest day of the year in 2023? It’s December 22 in China, December 21 in US, and also December 21 in the UK.

 See more about Winter Solstice Date

The Winter Solstice is only celebrated for one day. In astronomy, the exact start time in 2023 is 11:27:09, December 22 in Beijing Time; in Universal Time is 04:27:09, December 21; and in Eastern Standard Time is 22:27:09, December 21. 

Winter Solstice length of daytime depends on the latitude. In Northern Hemisphere, the higher the latitude, the shorter the daylight hours and the polar night occurs in the Arctic Circle. The Southern Hemisphere is the opposite. In London, UK, the Winter Solstice shortest day lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes. In New York, United States, the Winter Solstice length of daytime is 9 hours and 15 minutes long. In Beijing, China, it is 9 hours and 20 minutes.

Difference between Solstices and Equinox

Both equinox and solstice happen twice each year. The biggest difference between solstice and equinox is the distance between the celestial equator and the sun. The solstices happen when the sun is farthest from the celestial equator. The equinoxes happen when the Sun is directly overhead at the equator and day and night are nearly of equal length. Equinoxes occur on approximately March 21 and Sept. 22, known as Spring Equinox and Autumn Equinox. Solstices happen approximately on June 21 and Dec. 21, known as the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice respectively. There is no such thing as Winter Equinox or Spring Solstice.

What happens after Winter Solstice?

How does the Winter Solstice affect us? Do days get longer after Winter Solstice? Yes, it does in Northern Hemisphere. After the day, the sun turns from the Tropic of Cancer to the equator, so the sunshine time in Northern Hemisphere grows day by day and the day becomes longer and longer. In Southern Hemisphere, the day gets shorter.

But it gets colder and colder in the following more than a month in Northern Hemisphere. Why is it colder after the Winter Solstice? Seas and oceans which account for 70% of the surface of earth release a very large amount of heat when the earth’s temperature drops, and the solar energy the earth receives from the sun is much less than the lost energy of the seas, causing the temperature drop.


Winter Solstice Celebration around the World

1. Yule Festival in Scandinavia

Yule, is the pre-Christian Scandinavian festival celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples in northern Europe. On that day, they light trees, which symbolize the sun to get warmth and light to celebrate the rebirth of the sun.

2. Winter Sunrise at Stonehenge, UK

The Stonehenge in England, was built between 3000 BC and 2000 BC and is known for its Winter Solstice traditions a. People dress up and gather in Stonehenge to welcome the latest dawn and sunrise of the year. When the sun falls, the sunlight right passes through the gap between the certain two stones, which only happens on that day.

Winter in Xi'an, China
Winter Solstice in Xi'an, China

Winter Solstice is known as Winter Festival or Dongzhi Festival in China. Dumplings are the most essential and popular food, especially in northern China. Some also eat wontons on that day. In South part, glutinous rice balls which symbolize family reunion are more popular for locals. There are other festival activities. For example, in Hangzhou and Huzhou, people pay respects to ancestors at their tombs.

In South Korea, people have red bean porridge in Dongzhi, Japan people have Yuzu hot spring, while Vietnamese eat glutinous rice balls like southern Chinese.

 Read more:

6 Chinese Winter Solstice Foods to Warm You Up 

Winter Solstice Celebration - How Do Chinese People Celebrate Dongzhi Festival?

16 Special Winter Solstice Rituals in Different Places of China

4. Yalda Night before Winter Solstice, Iran

Yaldā night is on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Iranians celebrate the arrival of winter, the rebirth of the sun and Mithra, the goddess of light with family and friends. Fruits and nuts are common foods for Yaldā night celebration.

You May Like:
10 Interesting Winter Solstice Traditions around the World

2,500 Years’ History of Winter Solstice in China

5 Most Beautiful Chinese Winter Solstice Poems

Winter Solstice Folklore: 8 Stories in China

- Last updated on Oct. 13, 2023 by Gabby Li -
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