It is the day with the least sunlight with the winter solstice having been celebrated for thousands of years.
THE winter solstice: the shortest day and longest night of the year.
So what is so important about this date? What about it possesses people to dress in unicorn masks and visit Stonehenge?
Here, we take a look at just what the winter solstice is – and why a day with so little sunlight is worth celebrating.
What is the Winter Solstice?
The winter solstice is a phenomenon that marks the shortest day of the year.
Often referred to as the official beginning of winter, the solstice generally only occurs for a moment.
The true solstice occurs when the Earth is tilted the furthest away from the Sun on its axis.
Despite it only lasting a moment, the full day is recognised.
When is the Winter Solstice?
The winter solstice generally falls between December 20 and 23.
In 2016, it will fall on Wednesday, December 21.
This means, for the UK, the sun will rise at 8.04am and set at 3.54pm – meaning we will have just 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.
A winter solstice also occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, with the day occurring in late June.
How is it celebrated?
The day is one that is celebrated by pagans and druids, with rituals of rebirth performed throughout history on the day.
One of the biggest celebrations in the UK occurs at Stonehenge with crowds gathering to watch the sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice.
The crowds of devotees, often dressed for the occasion, regularly gather at the historic site.
It is just one of the many pagan festivals, which include midwinter, midsummer and inbolc – the day that traditionally marks the start of spring.
The importance placed on the day comes from how people were previously so ecoenomically dependent on the seasons with straveation common in the first months of winter.
Will the days start to get longer?
After the solstice, the days will start to get longer.
The process is gradual, with minutes added everyday.
The days will eventually lengthen until the summer solstice, which is expected on Wednesday June 21.
Article source: By BRITTANY VONOW The Sun Online
Join us on a guided tour from London or Bath and join the Pagan celebrations at sunrise on the Winter Solstice:
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour
The Stonehenge Experts
Stonehenge Guided Tours