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article imageThe Winter Solstice — A short day that's long on celebrations

By Karen Graham     Dec 21, 2019 in Environment
The winter solstice is upon us, marking the first day of astronomical winter, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. For six months, the days have grown shorter and the nights longer in the Northern Hemisphere, but now it will reverse itself.
Saturday, December 21, 2019, will be the shortest day of the year - or it could occur on Sunday, December 22. It all depends on where you live on this planet. Here in the United States, the winter solstice will occur at precisely 11:19 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, the exact moment the northern hemisphere is tilted farthest from the sun.
At the same time, in the Southern Hemisphere, the exact reverse is happening. This day marks the longest day of the year - and the beginning of summer in places such as Argentina, Australia, Namibia, and New Zealand.
Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun.
Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun.
NASA
According to Miami University associate professor of astronomy and physics Stephen Alexander, the Winter Solstice is all about the Earth's tilt and not how far it is from the sun. Professor Alexander explains that "the earth is tilted 23.5 degrees and therefore receives a different amount of direct sunlight at different points as it orbits the sun."
When the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, we receive less direct sunlight and a shorter sun arc, creating winter. This tilt of the Earth's rotational axis is what gives us our seasons, according to CNN.
This year  Vancouver  Canada will hold its 26th annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival.
This year, Vancouver, Canada will hold its 26th annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival.
Secret Lantern Society
Some might ask, "Why is the Earth tilted?" Not to worry because this is something that occurred billions of years ago. Back when the solar system was still forming, scientists believe the Earth was subject to violent collisions that caused the axis to tilt.
The Winter Solstice is steeped in traditions
Way back in our history, early peoples, and then civilizations were aware of the seasons, even if they didn't understand the scientific reasons behind the changes they were seeing. And today, many cultures celebrate the return of the longer days, regardless of if it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals.
The sun s track across the sky was monitored by many ancient people  including the Egyptians. The Te...
The sun's track across the sky was monitored by many ancient people, including the Egyptians. The Temple at Karnak was one the place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head.
Kurohito
The Winter Solstice is likened to a rebirth of the natural world - and by extension, a celebration of joy and relief that those long dark nights will soon be over. From Vancouver's Winter Solstice Lantern Festival in British Columbia, Canada, to Stonehenge - the UK's most famous site for solstice celebrations - there is universality in Winter Solstice celebrations.
More about Winter, Solstice, shortest day of the year, Traditions, rotational axis
 
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