September 26, 2023
Winter solstice 2022: The shortest day and longest night time of the 12 months
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(CNN) — For the previous six months, the times have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer within the Northern Hemisphere. However that is about to reverse itself.

Winter solstice 2022, the shortest day of 12 months and the official first day of winter, is on Wednesday, December 21 (properly, for an honest chunk of the world anyway). How this all works has fascinated folks for 1000’s of years.

First we’ll take a look at the science and exact timing behind the solstice. Then we’ll discover some historic traditions and celebrations world wide.

The science and timing behind a winter solstice

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the 12 months and the longest night time within the Northern Hemisphere, when the solar seems at its most southerly place, instantly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn.

The state of affairs is the reverse within the Southern Hemisphere, the place solely about 10% of the world’s inhabitants lives. There, the December solstice marks the longest day of the 12 months — and the start of summer season — in locations similar to Argentina, Madagascar, New Zealand and South Africa.

These three images from NOAA's GOES East (GOES-16) satellite show us what Earth looks like from space near the winter solstice. The images were captured about 24 hours before the 2018 winter solstice. You can see how the Northern Hemisphere is cloaked in more darkness.

These three photos from NOAA’s GOES East (GOES-16) satellite tv for pc present us what Earth appears to be like like from house close to the winter solstice. The pictures had been captured about 24 hours earlier than the 2018 winter solstice. You possibly can see how the Northern Hemisphere is cloaked in additional darkness.


When precisely does it happen?

The solstice normally — however not all the time — takes place on December 21. The date that the solstice happens can shift as a result of the photo voltaic 12 months (the time it takes for the solar to reappear in the identical spot as seen from Earth) would not precisely match as much as our calendar 12 months.

If you wish to be super-precise in your observations, the precise time of the 2022 winter solstice can be 21:48 Coordinated Common Time (UTC) on Wednesday, in accordance with and Farmers’ Almanac. That is nearly six hours later than final 12 months’s time.
The sun sets at Ocean Beach in San Francisco on winter solstice 2020.

The solar units at Ocean Seashore in San Francisco on winter solstice 2020.

Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Instances/Getty Photographs

Under are some examples of when 21:48 UTC can be for numerous native occasions in locations world wide. Due to time zone variations, the huge bulk of Asia will mark the winter solstice on Thursday, December 22.

• Tokyo: 6:48 a.m. Thursday
• Hanoi, Vietnam: 4:48 a.m. Thursday
• New Delhi: 3:18 a.m. Thursday
• Istanbul: 12:48 a.m. Thursday
• Jerusalem: 11:48 p.m. Wednesday
• Copenhagen, Denmark: 10:48 p.m. Wednesday
• Charlotte, North Carolina: 4:48 p.m. Wednesday
• Winnipeg, Manitoba: 3:48 p.m. Wednesday
• San Francisco: 1:48 p.m. Wednesday
• Honolulu: 11:48 a.m. Wednesday

What locations see and really feel the consequences of the winter solstice essentially the most?

Daylight decreases dramatically the nearer you might be to the North Pole on December 21.

Individuals in balmy Singapore, simply 137 kilometers or 85 miles north of the equator, barely discover the distinction, with simply 9 fewer minutes of daylight than they’ve through the summer season solstice. It is just about a 12-hour day, give or take a couple of minutes, all 12 months lengthy there.
The illuminated Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine, adding to the magic of Paris in winter.

The illuminated Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine, including to the magic of Paris in winter.

Frédéric Soltan/Corbis Information/Getty Photographs

A lot increased in latitude, Paris nonetheless logs in a good eight hours and 14 minutes of daylight to take pleasure in a cold stroll alongside the Seine.
The distinction is extra stark in frigid Oslo, Norway, the place the solar will rise at 9:18 a.m. and set at 3:12 p.m., leading to lower than six hours of anemic daylight. Solar lamp, anybody?
Residents of Nome, Alaska, can be much more daylight disadvantaged with simply three hours and 54 minutes and 31 seconds of very weak daylight. However that is downright beneficiant in contrast with Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It sits contained in the Arctic Circle and will not see a single ray of sunshine.

What causes the winter solstice to even occur?

As a result of Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, now we have altering seasons. Because the planet strikes across the solar, every hemisphere experiences winter when it is tilted away from the solar and summer season when it is tilted towards the solar.

Maintain on! Why is the Earth tilted?

Scientists should not totally certain how this occurred, however they suppose that billions of years in the past, because the photo voltaic system was taking form, the Earth was topic to violent collisions that brought on the axis to tilt.

What different seasonal transitions will we mark?

The equinoxes, each spring and fall, happen when the solar’s rays are instantly over the equator. On these two days, everybody in all places has a virtually equal size of day and night time. The summer season solstice is when the solar’s rays are farthest north over the Tropic of Most cancers, giving us our longest day and the official begin of summer season within the Northern Hemisphere.

Winter solstice traditions and celebrations

A view of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for 2022. Many Christmas traditions have their roots in pagan celebrations.

A view of the Rockefeller Middle Christmas Tree for 2022. Many Christmas traditions have their roots in pagan celebrations.

John Lamparski/Getty Photographs

It is no shock many cultures and religions rejoice a vacation — whether or not or not it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of longer days.

Historic peoples whose survival trusted a exact information of seasonal cycles marked this primary day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the chance for renewal.

“Christmas takes lots of its customs and doubtless its date on the calendar from the pagan Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Kalends,” Maria Kennedy, assistant instructing professor within the Division of American Research at Rutgers College, advised CNN Journey in an e-mail.

Saturnalia began on December 17 and Kalends began on January 1, stated Kennedy, who makes a speciality of Christmas research.

Citing tutorial analysis, Kennedy stated early founders of the Christian church condemned the practices of those holidays, however their reputation endured. Christian observance of Christmas ultimately aligned across the identical time within the calendar despite the fact that there is no particular date set within the Gospels for the beginning of Jesus.

This is extra on a few of these historic customs:

Alban Arthan

Within the Welsh language, “Alban Arthan” means for “Gentle of Winter,” in accordance with the Farmers’ Almanac. It is perhaps the oldest seasonal competition of humankind. A part of Druidic traditions, the winter solstice is taken into account a time of demise and rebirth.


In Historic Rome, Saturnalia lasted for seven days. It honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.

The folks loved carnival-like festivities resembling trendy Mardi Gras celebrations and even delayed their war-making. Slaves got non permanent freedoms, and ethical restrictions had been eased. Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD.


It is not simply historic Europeans who marked the annual event. The Dongzhi Winter Solstice Pageant has its roots in historic Chinese language tradition. The title interprets roughly as “excessive of winter.”

They thought this was the apex of yin (from Chinese language drugs principle). Yin represents darkness and chilly and stillness, thus the longest day of winter. Dongzhi marks the return yang — and the sluggish ascendance of sunshine and heat. Dumplings are normally eaten to rejoice in some East Asian cultures.


Many locations world wide historically maintain festivals that honor the winter solstice. Just a few of them embody:

Montol Pageant

Higher recognized for pirates than the solstice, the city of Penzance on the southwest coast of England revived the pleasant custom of a Cornish processional — together with dancing, mask-wearing, singing and extra.
 A choir sings at Stonehenge to mark the winter solstice.

A choir sings at Stonehenge to mark the winter solstice.

Ben Birchall /PA Photographs/Getty Photographs


The UK’s most well-known web site for solstice celebrations is Stonehenge. On the winter solstice, guests historically enter the towering, mysterious stone circle for a dawn ceremony run by native pagan and druid teams.

Lantern Pageant

In Canada, Vancouver’s Winter Solstice Lantern Pageant is a glowing celebration of solstice traditions unfold throughout the Granville Island, Strathcona and Yaletown neighborhoods.

CNN’s Katia Hetter and Autumn Spanne contributed to this text.

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