Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Quick Facts - GB

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2023 Date21 December 2023
2024 Date21 December 2024

Beginning of Winter (Winter Solstice)

Beginning of Winter (Winter Solstice) in
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The Observance of Beginning of Winter, also known as the Winter Solstice, is an astronomical event marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. It symbolises the return of the sun's presence in the sky, a turning point signalling that winter has officially began. As one of Earth's natural rhythms, it has significant influence on the cycle of plant and animal life. Many ancient cultures attached significant and spiritual importance to this event, perceiving it as a period of rebirth and renewal.

In the United Kingdom, the Winter Solstice has long been recognised and observed. Ancient circles of stones like Stonehenge, constructed around 2500BC, align perfectly with the setting sun on this day of the year, indicating its significance for early Britons. Today, this event still resonates with the people in the UK. Events such as festive gatherings, bonfires, feasts, and musical concerts are common, often acting as a form of community gathering to ward off the winter cold and dark.

The Current Observance of Beginning of Winter or the Winter Solstice in the United Kingdom often sees people gathering at ancient monuments like Stonehenge and Avebury to celebrate and acknowledge this turning point of the year. Despite the usual cold weather, many people wake up before dawn to be a part of these large gatherings for sunrise. This tradition has been revitalised in recent years, attracting pagans, druids, and those simply interested in this astronomical event. The Winter Solstice typically falls between the 20th and 23rd of December each year in the northern hemisphere, including the United Kingdom. It is a time to acknowledge the cycle of nature and celebrate the lengthening of days to come.

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Facts about Winter Solstice

  • On the Winter Solstice, there are 24 hours of sunlight in the Antarctic Circle, and 24 hours of darkness in the Arctic Circle.
  • Many pagan rituals have revolved around the Winter Solstice. The short days and long hours of darkness prompted rituals intended to lure the Sun back.
  • There is a tradition in the northern part of China to eat "Lidong water" or "winter water", which is the water stored overnight. Drinking it is believed to protect from the cold and diseases.
  • Winter fuel payments are provided to eligible individuals in the UK to help cover the increased cost of heating during the colder months. British households may also be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment when the temperature falls below a certain threshold for a consecutive period.
  • Winter weather in the UK can be unpredictable, with cold snaps and snowfall often occurring without much warning. The heaviest snowfalls typically occur in the northern and eastern parts of the country, while the southwest and coastal regions are usually milder due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.

Top things to do in the UK for the Winter Solstice

  • Purchase a Christmas tree. Tip: For a more environmentally friendly Christmas, purchase a Live trees in a burlap root sack that can be planted after the holiday.
  • Watch the lunar eclipse which happens within several days of the winter solstice.
  • Get in the festive spirit by decorating your home for winter. Hang wreaths, put up fairy lights, and display winter-themed ornaments. It's a fun way to make your living space cozy and inviting during the colder months.
  • Take advantage of the crisp winter air and go for scenic walks in the countryside or local parks.

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