What is the Winter Solstice?

Have you ever hear of the longest night, midwinter, hiemal solstice, hibernal solstice, toji, yule or the winter solstice? These are all terms to describe the midpoint of the year, when the night lasts the longest and the day is at its shortest. Midwinter occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun, making the Northern Hemisphere (where County Durham is) stay in darkness for the maximum amount of time possible.

blur branch close up cold
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

When is the Winter Solstice?

The Winter Solstice in 2019 is Sunday 22nd December.

In this post I’ll show you 4 ways you can mark this moment and things you can do to help prepare for the lighter days ahead.

Winter Solstice, some times called Yuletide, is a often thought of as a time of rebirth and new beginnings. The story of the the Yule log being burned goes back to medieval times, originally from Scandinavian and other Northern European countries. The Yule Log was part of an entire tree that what chosen carefully and used for the ceremonial fire. The log would be lit and fed into the fire piece by piece over the 12 days of Christmas.

Why is the Winter Solstice Important?

The winter solstice is important because it marks the beginning of the end of the darkness of winter. For outdoors enthusists this is a good sign as it means more of our time can be spend in the easier daylight conditions, rather then stumbling in the dark.

It’s important to pay attention to the seasons and the natural world around us. Sometimes we are so focused on the adventure, the journey and the hike that we don’t necessarily pay attention to the longer rhythms of the world. We have become insulated to the realities of the natural world by the central heating, heated car seats and head torches of the modern world. According to statistics we spend at least 90% of our time indoors.

landscape photography of snow pathway between trees during winter
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

Tips and Reminders for the Winter Solstice

Why not start a new family tradition for the Winter Solstice, hot chocolate and star gazing, or a back garden barbeque or bonfire?

You could use this time to clean and prepare old boots for the onslaught of new year walks in a few weeks?

How about planning some routes to take in the new year when the days are lighter? Get on the OS Maps website or get some paper maps spread out and find a new trail to walk.

Finally, why not spend a little time in a familiar place but in the dark. I did this recently and found the lack of light completely changing my experience of the location.

Now you know all about the Winter Solstice some of the traditions that it encouraged our ansestors to follow and things you can do to start your own traditions.

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