The December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year it falls on 22nd December

winter-sols

In ancient Pagan traditions, the winter solstice was a time to honor the cycles of life and death and celebrate the sun’s rebirth as the days would slowly begin to lengthen in the months leading into spring. Many modern practitioners of Pagan and earth-centered spiritual traditions observe the holiday, and at Stonehenge, the celebration is particularly special.

 

There is no access to the inner circle at Stonehenge on  between the 18th and 27th winter-solstice-tourDecember inclusive because of the winter solstice. There is, however, open access on the morning of the 22nd December to watch the winter solstice sunrise which happens about 8.09am.  We are are offering our usual exclusive guided Winter Solstice tour that departs from London or Bath, pleae visit our Stonehenge Tour website for full details.

 

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 20th and 23rd.  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.In 2017, it will fall on Wednesday, December 22nd.

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.

Join us on a Stonehenge guided tour from London or Bath and join the Pagan celebrations at sunrise on the Winter Solstice. This is a popular tour and shoule be booked in advance:
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tour

The Stonehenge Experts
Stonehenge Guided Tours
http://www.StonehengeTours.com

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