The Winter Solstice
Have you heard of the Winter Solstice? Well if not, you have now! The Winter Solstice is the start of winter and the shortest day of the year. People have celebrated the Winter Solstice for hundreds of years! Many celebrated it as the return of the sun, and the promise of longer days. There is also a Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year! The Winter Solstice is called different names since it is celebrated all over the world! The date of the Winter Solstice varies every year depending on the exact tilt of the earth, but it’s always around the middle of December.
Thousands of years ago, people didn’t understand how the earth moves around the sun or why the days kept getting shorter in winter. Many held ceremonies for weeks so that the sun would return. Over time, they realized the sun returned every year, and after Winter Solstice the days would get longer. Many people began to create a way to track when it was the shortest or longest day. Some measured shadows and others built stone structures with holes in them. When the sun shined through the hole they would know it was the setting or rising sun of Winter Solstice.
People began to celebrate Winter Solstice since it marked the end of short days. In many places, people decorated with evergreen plants during this time, a symbol of life in colder regions! Most made special foods. Some people had ceremonies as soon as the sun rose the next day. For example, the Incas, the native people of Peru, would use shiny items to reflect the sun’s rays onto dry cotton. They would keep it burning all year long because it came from one of their gods, the sun.
Today many people still decorate with evergreen plants and still make special foods for the Holiday. Many light candles, as a symbol of light on the shortest day. The Winter Solstice is celebrated for several reasons, but mostly because it means longer days will follow, and the days will get long again.
There are many fun things to do during the winter solstice! We like to go snowshoeing or sledding with family and friends. It’s always fun!