Winter Solstice is the annual celebration which marks the shortest day, and the longest night, of the year. For the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice falls on December 22 this year. The Winter Solstice only applies to those in the northern hemisphere, while at the same time, the southern hemisphere will celebrate the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year.
In the UK, crowds often gather at Stonehenge in Wilshire to usher in the start of winter.
According to English Heritage: “English Heritage is looking forward to welcoming people to Stonehenge to celebrate Winter Solstice on Sunday 22 December.
“Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric site which has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Winter Solstice for thousands of years and is seen by many as a sacred site.
“Winter Solstice at Stonehenge will take place on Sunday 22 December 2019. Admission is free of charge.
“Entry to the monument will be from approximately 07:45 (or when it is light enough to safely enter) until 10:00.”
The annual phenomenon is caused by the Earth’s North Pole tilting farther away from the Sun than at any other point in the year.
There is no definitive start to winter, but astronomers will tell you it starts at the Winter Solstice, while meteorologists argue that it begins on December 1.
The Farmers Almanac said: “Because an almanac is traditionally defined as a “calendar of the heavens,” we at The Old Farmer’s Almanac follows the astronomical definition of the seasons, which states that each of the four seasons starts on a solstice or equinox.
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But most people concentrate on the whole solstice day, which has been recognised by holidays and festivals in many cultures around the world.
The shortest day of the year lasts exactly 7 hours 49 minutes and 43 seconds in London.
This means that the length of day during the Winter Solstice is 8 hours, 48 minutes and 37 seconds shorter than the Summer Solstice.