When is the shortest day of the year? What does the Winter Solstice actually mean?

Winter is quickly approaching, but do you know when the shortest day of the year is? And what exactly is the Winter Solstice?

By The Newsroom
Friday, 17th November 2017, 12:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:48 am

It’s Thursday, December 21, 16:28 GMT. The sun will rise at 8:04 am and set at 3:54 pm. Daylight will be around seven hours and 50 minutes (approx) making it the shortest day of the year.

Winter solstice marks the beginning of the Winter months, so you can officially get ready for Christmas.

Get out your woolly hats and your knitted scarves because the weather is about to change. In fact, the first frost of the year is already upon us.

Why is this event named the Winter Solstice?

It’s all about the stars. And our position within them. The tilt of the axis of the earth is directly proportional to how many hours of daylight we receive.

On December 21, the North Pole will be the furthest away from the sun than at any other time of the year. Which is why it’s such a dark day.

From now until then, our days will get shorter and shorter, a gradual descent into Winter.

The name soltice originally comes from the Latin for the “sun stands still.” As the sun seems to appear to be completely still in the sky.

But don’t fret if you hate the cold, as after December the 21st, the days will once again begin to be brighter.

Little by little, every day will move us closer to long, lazy summer days.

How is this celebrated?

This yearly phenomenon has been noticed by humans for centuries. And it used to be a much bigger deal than it is now.

Back in the Stone Age, solstices were ways of marking time. And also a great excuse for large parties.

They used to drink liters of wine and make sacrificial slaughters of animals such as cows, during this epic sunset.

The large, ancient stones are quite the spectacle on December 21. As they line up perfectly with the setting sun, creating beautiful shadows.

We have modernised this event into the 21st century, people still go to the historic landmark of Stonehenge and celebrate the event every year.

It often attracts thousands, people flock to Wiltshire to watch the sunset behind the silhouettes of the stones.

What does this mean in Yorkshire?

Even though the Winter Solstice is an event which occurs across the entire globe, the regional daylight hour times are slightly different.

In God’s own county, the sun will rise at 8:03 am and set at 15:53 pm.

So if you want to grab a solstice pic, head outside slightly earlier than the national time.