The Geeky And Spiritual Things You Should Know About The Winter Solstice
As we edge closer to Christmas and make sure we’ve got everything ready for the big day, you may be aware that we’re also approaching the winter solstice on Monday 21st December. But what do you actually know about it? Other than the obvious being the shortest day of the year, which many of you would love to see come and go as quickly possible, the winter solstice is a significant time of the year which should not be ignored.
Whether you’re a winter warrior of a summer lover here’s some geeky facts about the solstice coming to us next week and some more spiritual ways in which you can celebrate and honour this unique time of the year.
THE GEEKY FACTS….
A ‘solstice’ is actually a specific moment in time, not a whole day
Both winter and summer solstices are a specific time of the day, not a whole day itself. The winter solstice is the moment in time, a second in fact, when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn, and this year the exact time will be 10:02am (UK).
It’s not always on the same date every year
Winter solstice can be any time between December 20, 21, 22 or 23, but it’s rare that it falls on the 20th or the 23rd. This is because of the tropical year, which is the time it takes for the sun to return to the same place relative to Earth, and the tropical year is different to a calendar year. This year the solstice falls on December 21st. The last one to fall on December 23rd was in 1903 and won’t happen again on this date until 2303! A December 20th solstice has occurred very rarely and the next one will be in 2080.
Winter vs summer solstice
On this year’s winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, the sun will rise at 8:03am and will set at 3:53pm giving us just 7 hours and 53 minutes of sunlight. Compare this to a 4:43am sunrise and a 9:21pm sunset on the summer solstice on June 20th which gave us a whopping 16 hours and 38 minutes of sunlight!
The word solstice roughly translates to ‘sun stands still’
It derives from two Latin words: ‘sol’ which means ‘sun’ and ‘sistere’ which means ‘to stand still’. So as the sun reaches it’s southern-most position (directly above the Tropic of Capricorn) it appears to be standing still…makes sense! Depending on religion and heritage it has other names such as yule, midwinter, the longest night and winter equinox.
You can see the solstice
Well, kind of! On the 21st December if you live in the northern hemisphere your shadow will be longer than at any other time of the year because the sun is at it’s lowest point in the sky and at it’s furthest point away from us (directly over the Tropic of Capricorn). If you live in the southern hemisphere, you will see the opposite being no shadow at all, as the sun will be directly overhead and at it’s closest point to you. So England = long shadow, Australia = no shadow!
THE SPIRITUAL SIDE…
After darkness comes light
The Sun begins a new solar cycle now. In winter everything lies dormant, hibernating, in protection mode, gathering energy to awaken, bloom and grow. This is true in nature, seeds that are buried in the darkness of the earth start to emerge and make their way towards the sun…maybe this is how some of us feel as we leave winter behind and welcome those longer days!
A change of direction
The winter solstice is one of the most powerful points of the year when the axis of the Earth pauses, shifts and moves in the opposite direction. For three days around the solstice points we may physically, mentally and spiritually experience this stand still and shift of direction. This powerful metaphor highlights the energy available to us to change the direction of our lives with intention and nurture and maximise this energy as we enter a new year.
A time for reflection
At this time of stillness as the sun builds strength and days get longer, take some time to rest and reflect. If you are working through tough, dark times, know that the change of seasons brings brighter days ahead. Use this powerful time of the year to reflect and recreate yourself. Read below…
Light a candle
A common and simple ritual is to burn candles to create light on the darkest day of the year. As the sun goes down, turn off all the lights (and your phone, TV, smart watch and laptop!) and spend a moment or two in darkness to honour the sunlight in your own mind. As you light a candle and welcome the light, think about you, your past and what you want for your future. This is a time to let things go, not to judge, but to look forward and welcome positive change for the year ahead.
Join us to welcome the solstice together
We will be celebrating this special time of the year together, be that in person or virtually in these strange times, and we welcome you to join us.
On Monday 21st December we will be honouring and welcoming the light of the sun returning to us by moving through 108 Sun Salutations. We will allow you time to be still and reflect and also set some intentions, or start to think about changes you would like to see in your life.
We would love you to join us so if you would like more information please contact us at [email protected]