Winter solstice is the moment in time when one of the Earth’s poles gets most tilted away from sun. Solstice and equinox happens due the axial tilt of Earth. Winter solstice is also known as hibernal solstice or midwinter. This happens twice a year once in Northern hemisphere and once in the southern hemisphere. The date for Northern hemisphere is between Dec 20 and Dec 21 while for Southern hemisphere it is between June 20 and June 21. Winter solstice is also referred to as the shortest and longest day of the year for that pole.
Winter solstice marks the winter and occurs during winter in that hemisphere. For northern hemisphere it is known as December Solstice. In one pole when it occurs Summer solstice, at the same moment winter solstice occurs in the other pole.
Ancient cultures celebrated the moment with unique festivals and rituals. The shortest day/longest night was a significant moment in time, so they celebrated it with importance.
In old India, Iran, Germany, Romans and other cultures celebrated this day with a great significance.
- Makar Sakranti was celebrated in India,which marked the first day of the winter.
- Iranians celebrated this moment named as “Yalda Night” which meant this longest and darkest night of the year. i.e; winter solstice in northern hemisphere.
- Old Northern European people celebrated this day with a Yule Feast, in the midwinter.
- In China and Japan 24 Solar terms are celebrated. Winter solstice is one of them and it is celebrated as a significant solar term.