The winter solstice is Saturday, December 21, 2019. This is the astronomical first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year. What happens at the winter solstice? Why is the solstice important? Enjoy solstice facts and folklore from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
WHEN IS THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER?
In 2019, the winter solstice arrives on Saturday, December 21, at 11:19 p.m. EST, marking the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice always occurs around December 21 or 22. (In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs around June 20 or 21.) It is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the whole year.
WINTER SOLSTICE DATES
|Year||Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)||Winter Solstice (Southern Hemisphere)|
|2019||Saturday, December 21*||Friday, June 21|
|2020||Monday, December 21||Saturday, June 20|
|2021||Tuesday, December 21||Sunday, June 20*|
*Due to time zone differences, this solstice will technically occur on the next day in some regions.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE WINTER SOLSTICE?
At the winter solstice, the Sun appears at its most southerly point. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on the solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn. The next day, the path will begin to advance northward.
The word solstice comes from Latin sol“sun” and sistere “to stand still.” So, loosely translated, it means “sun stand still.” For a few days before and after the solstice, the Sun appears to stand still in the sky. The change in its noontime elevation is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still.
As summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets will 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. Observe the changing day length in your area with our Sunrise and Sunset Times Calculator.
Think of it this way. The solstice brings the return of more sunlight. It only gets brighter from here!