When is the winter solstice and how can it help power up our plans for next year?

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When is the winter solstice and how can it help power up our plans for next year?


Wondering when the evenings will finally get longer again? Winter solstice will mark the shortest day of the year – so mark your calendars, people.

Though it doesn’t necessarily feel like it, it’s still technically considered autumn right now. It’s not officially winter until we reach the winter solstice – which this year will fall on Friday 22 December. It’s kind of cause for celebration, because it means that the days are going to start getting brighter again. Total music to our ears.

This ancient solar festival falls on the shortest day of the year, but there’s more to it than a slow march towards summer al fresco. To our ancestors, this rebirth of the sun signalled the beginning of Yule, a cause for great celebration and feasting.

Take a look at the crowds gathering to watch the solstice sun rise or set at Stonehenge and you’ll see – not much has changed since. For modern pagans and witches, the winter solstice (one of the eight Wheel of the Year sabbat celebrations) is a potent and magical time for self-reflection, future visioning and intention setting. And if you fancy getting in on the action, it can be just that for you too.

So, ignore the pre-Christmas work stress, ditch your end of year woes and sink into a seasonal celebration that’s way less stressful and a whole lot more magical than the one currently taking up all your headspace. Celebrating the winter solstice can be as low-key or as extra as you like – simply pick the practice(s) or rituals that speak to you from the list below and use them to help you dream up a seriously next-level new year.

What is the winter solstice?

It’s the time of the year when the Sun is lowest (or most southernmost) in the sky and furthest from the North Pole.

Because Earth is tilted on its axis, the arc that the Sun moves through rises and falls, so the Sun can appear higher and lower in the sky in different seasons.

What does ‘solstice’ mean?

It’s actually is derived from the Latin word “solstitium”, which means “sun stands still” – this is because the Sun’s path stops temporarily before changing direction and starting a new season.

When is the winter solstice? How long is the shortest day of the year?

Friday, 22 December will be the shortest day of the year in 2023. The exact time of the solstice is 3:27am. The shortest day lasts 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds in London. For context, this means that the length of the day during the winter solstice is 8 hours, 49 minutes shorter than the summer solstice.

Do the days get longer after the winter solstice?

Yes, praise be! From 22 December onwards, the days will gradually get longer, with the number of daylight hours peaking during the summer solstice. Both the spring and autumnal equinoxes – which are in March and September, respectively – are roughly the same length, as well.

When does winter start?

There’s no one clear-cut answer, because while many view the winter solstice as marking the beginning of winter, meteorologists argue that it starts earlier in December.



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