The winter solstice occurs the instant the Sun's position in the sky is at its greatest angular
distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observer. Depending on the shift of
the calendar, the event of the winter solstice occurs some time between December the 20th and
December the 23rd in the northern hemisphere. The winter solstice occurs between June the 20th
and June the 23rd, in the southern hemisphere, during either the shortest day or the longest
night of the year. This year the winter solstice is December the 21st at 7:04 a.m.
The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is the reversal of the lengthening nights and
shortening days. Cultures define the winter solstice in varying ways as it said to astronomically
mark the beginning or middle of a hemisphere's winter. The winter solstice is clearly calculated
to within a second. Though it lasts an instant, the term is used to refer to the full 24-hour period.
Worldwide, interpretation of the event varies, but most cultures have held a recognition of
rebirth, holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations.
The word solstice is derived from Latin sol meaning (sun) and sistere meaning (to stand still).
In most countries the time of the winter solstice is considered as midwinter. East Asian cultures
define the seasons by solar terms, with the winter solstice as the middle of winter. This system
is based on the sun's tilt. Many European solar calendar midwinter celebrations still centre upon
the night of December the 24th, leading into December the 25th in the north, which was
considered to be the winter solstice upon the establishment of the Julian calendar.