For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest nights and shortest days of the year. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere is having short nights and long days. The first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the Winter Solstice, which occurs today – Monday, December 21, 2020, at 5:02 A.M. EST.
Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright but is instead tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, the Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. The tilt of the Earth – not our distance from the sun – is what causes winter and summer. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year.
Being the shortest day means the solstice is also the longest night of the year, and one of the original traditions was rooted in candlelight—both for the needed light, and to celebrate the return of the sun in the coming months.
To celebrate, use a tabletop and cover it in unlit candles either in a circle or a varied pattern. Place a candle that symbolizes the sun (ideally in yellow or gold) in the center and taller than the rest of the candles. Light the sun candle first, and then the rest of the candles. You can recite a ritual while doing it, too.
(Or just have your coffee at 5:02 am EST – sounds like a ritual to dievca!)
Photos: dievca's 2020 Candles and Coffee for the Solstice
a grayish-white crystalline deposit of frozen water vapor formed in clear still weather on vegetation, fences, etc.
After the Solstice: DECEMBER’S FULL COLD MOON
WHAT IS THE WINTER SOLSTICE?
The word solstice comes from Latin sol “sun” and sistere “to stand still.” In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day.
At the winter solstice (Friday, December 21st, 2018), the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.
The Full Moon for December 2018 rises on the 22nd at 12:49 PM—very near the winter solstice this year! It will be close to full (95%) on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, this Moon is called the Full Cold Moon because it is the full moon closest to the Winter Solstice.
Don’t forget to shake your wallet at the moon to come into money. And keep in mind the days will be getting longer from here onward!
A “Thank You” to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Refinery 29 and Google!