The first day of winter in 2015 falls on December 21. What does winter mean to you?
Winter inspires both joy and woe. Some people can’t wait for the cooler weather, snow, skiing and ice skating, curling up by a fire, and the holiday spirit. You’ll notice a peaceful sort of silence when you walk through the woods—a muffled kind of quiet.
Other people dislike the frigid temperatures, blizzards, and wild weather. In colder regions, winter often means shoveling, snowblowing, dealing with bad roads, and sometimes unbearable temperatures. In warmer regions, the winter temperatures become very mild and cool, and places such as Florida fills up with people escaping the harshness of a northern winter.
The Winter Solstice
Winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it occurs around December 21 or 22. (In the Southern Hemisphere, it is around June 20 or 21.) Find out the changing day length in your neck of the woods with our personalized Sunrise/set tool.
The word solstice comes from the Latin words for “sun” and “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, 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.