Winter solstice 2022: The shortest day and longest evening of the yr

December 22, 2022

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For the previous six months, the times have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer within the Northern Hemisphere. However that’s about to reverse itself.

Winter solstice 2022, the shortest day of yr and the official first day of winter, is on Wednesday, December 21 (properly, for a good chunk of the world anyway). How this all works has fascinated folks for hundreds of years.

First we’ll have a look at the science and exact timing behind the solstice. Then we’ll discover some historical traditions and celebrations around the globe.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the yr and the longest evening within the Northern Hemisphere, when the solar seems at its most southerly place, straight overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn.

The scenario 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 yr – and the start of summer season – in locations resembling 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.

When precisely does it happen?

The solstice normally – however not at all times – takes place on December 21. The date that the solstice happens can shift as a result of the photo voltaic yr (the time it takes for the solar to reappear in the identical spot as seen from Earth) doesn’t precisely match as much as our calendar yr.

If you wish to be super-precise in your observations, the precise time of the 2022 winter solstice might be 21:48 Coordinated Common Time (UTC) on Wednesday, in line with and Farmers’ Almanac. That’s virtually six hours later than final yr’s time.

The sun sets at Ocean Beach in San Francisco on winter solstice 2020.

Under are some examples of when 21:48 UTC might be for numerous native instances in locations around the globe. 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

To examine the timing the place you reside, the web site EarthSky has a useful conversion desk to your time zone. You may also strive the conversion instruments at, or

What locations see and really feel the results of the winter solstice probably the most?

Daylight decreases dramatically the nearer you’re 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’s just about a 12-hour day, give or take a couple of minutes, all yr lengthy there.

A lot increased in latitude, Paris nonetheless logs in a decent eight hours and 14 minutes of daylight to get pleasure from 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, might be much more daylight disadvantaged with simply three hours and 54 minutes and 31 seconds of very weak daylight. However that’s downright beneficiant in contrast with Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It sits contained in the Arctic Circle and gained’t 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, we now have altering seasons. Because the planet strikes across the solar, every hemisphere experiences winter when it’s tilted away from the solar and summer season when it’s tilted towards the solar.

Maintain on! Why is the Earth tilted?

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

What different seasonal transitions will we mark?

The equinoxes, each spring and fall, happen when the solar’s rays are straight over the equator. On these two days, everybody in all places has a virtually equal size of day and evening. 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.

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

It’s no shock many cultures and religions have a good time 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 relied on 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 a lot of its customs and possibly 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, instructed CNN Journey in an electronic mail.

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

Citing educational 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 similar time within the calendar although there’s no particular date set within the Gospels for the delivery of Jesus.

Right here’s extra on a few of these historical customs:

Alban Arthan

Within the Welsh language, “Alban Arthan” means for “Mild of Winter,” in line with the Farmers’ Almanac. It may be the oldest seasonal pageant of humankind. A part of Druidic traditions, the winter solstice is taken into account a time of loss of life and rebirth.

Newgrange, a prehistoric monument in-built Eire round 3200 BC, is related to the Alban Arthan pageant.


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 momentary freedoms, and ethical restrictions had been eased. Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD.


It’s not simply historical Europeans who marked the annual event. The Dongzhi Winter Solstice Competition has its roots in historical Chinese language tradition. The identify interprets roughly as “excessive of winter.”

They thought this was the apex of yin (from Chinese language drugs concept). Yin represents darkness and chilly and stillness, thus the longest day of winter. Dongzhi marks the return yang – and the gradual ascendance of sunshine and heat. Dumplings are normally eaten to have a good time in some East Asian cultures.

Many locations around the globe historically maintain festivals that honor the winter solstice. Just a few of them embrace:

Montol Competition

Higher identified 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.


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.

The English Heritage Society says the 2022 celebration might be held on Thursday, December 22. It is going to be livestreamed on its YouTube channel.

Lantern Competition

In Canada, Vancouver’s Winter Solstice Lantern Competition 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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