By Kelly Sargent
Today, December 21, is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. On the same day while we're celebrating our winter solstice, the Southern Hemisphere is having their summer solstice. Conversely, when they're having their winter solstice on June 21, we'll be having our summer solstice.
Both winter solstices, the one in the North and the one in the South, are the two moments during the year when the path of the sun in the sky is farthest south in the northern hemisphere and farthest north in the southern hemisphere, and during which the sun travels the shortest path through the sky. As a result, those days have the least daylight and the longest night.
Solstice, which is a marriage of the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still," is the official start of the astronomical winter in both hemispheres. Celebrating the solstices is one of the oldest traditions known to humankind, along with storytelling and burying the dead.
One poetic writer wrote, "Since we first crawled out of the cave, the winter solstice has heralded a time to retreat back to it, to consider what is lost with the frost and what is promised by spring. The longest night offers a chance to reflect on the year that has passed and cast an eye and a lantern towards brighter days ahead."
In addition to the solstice, of course there are other notable celebrations: the eight days of Hanukkah run from Dec. 18 through Dec. 26. Christmas is Dec. 25, Kwanzaa is celebrated Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, and then of course there's New Year's Eve on the 31st. Let the celebrating begin!
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