The days are short this time of year, but there’s an end in sight to these gloomy winter days. The Winter Solstice falls on December 21st, and it marks the longest night in our yearly rotation around the sun. After the solstice, we’ll see the slow return of more daylight, and before you know it, winter will be over. Today, we have everything you need to know about the Winter Solstice!
What is the Winter Solstice?
Due to the earth’s tilt and the sun’s position over the northern hemisphere, it gets dark earlier and earlier. This continues until the Winter Solstice, when the sun is farthest away. At this point, it will slowly start to get dark later, until the Summer Solstice. Historically, this was a time for people to start hunkering down in cozy spaces to await the coming spring. For centuries, people have observed the “return” of the Sun after the longest night of the year with feasting and gift-giving. These old Solstice traditions influence holidays we celebrate now, like Christmas and Hanukkah.
How Different People Celebrate
Today people around the world still gather to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
- Dong Zhi, in China, is a thousand-year-old festival celebrated with family gatherings and a big meal. Believed to mark the end of the harvest season, the holiday origins are also rooted in the Chinese concept of yin and yang. After the solstice, the increasing darkness of winter will begin to be balanced with the light of the sun.
- In England, the mysterious circle of Stonehenge lines up with the movements of the sun. Druid solstice festivals happened here regularly, and today, modern revelers have taken up the tradition. They gather at dawn the day after the longest night to witness the sun as it rises through the ancient stones.
- Another solstice festival in England, the Burning the Clocks, takes place in Brighton. Fire is traditionally a part of winter solstice observances, as it’s used to light the dark days and long nights. The modern-day Burning of Clocks Festival relies on this for its yearly solstice parade, bonfire, and fire show. People bring lanterns made of wood and paper to the beach to be burned in a huge bonfire. It’s an elaborate performance symbolizing the passage of time, along with wishes, hopes, and fears that are passed through the flames.
Make The Most of The Longest Night of the Year
This season, the longest night of the year falls on a Saturday, so you can make it the longest weekend of the year! Head out early when the sun goes down, and meet your friends at McCray’s Tavern Midtown for craft cocktails, draft pours, and elevated American eats. Check out our menu online and stop by today to find out why McCray’s Tavern is the best neighborhood grill and bar in Midtown Atlanta!