Winter Solstice pictures and tweets from across Scotland

Yuletide Gay Winter Solstice

A Winter Solstice Ritual For Reflection & Release

In the Lower 48, the sun is up for more than 10 hours across Florida and southern Texas, while states across the northern tier get under nine hours of daylight. December 21 is the winter solstice: the shortest day and longest night of the year here in Earth's northern hemisphere.

This astronomical phenomena, also known as midwinter, is the exact moment when the sun's most direct rays get to their southernmost point south of the equator. During the local noon, you will see your shadow to be the longest of the year. For those of us who hate dark mornings and cold weather, tomorrow will be the beginning of longer days ahead.

You probably know that the earth orbits the sun on a tilted axis and that in the Northern Hemisphere peak sunlight happens between June 20 and 22, on the summer solstice, while in the Southern Hemisphere peak sunlight occurs between December 20 and 22, for their summer solstice. The time and date for the winter solstice changes all the time.

Finland marks winter solstice, longer days on the horizon
The reason behind this phenomenon is that the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5° relative to the plane of the planet's orbit. This is the shortest day of the year, too - but with the moon this full, we've got plenty of reason to stay out howling.

Although the pagan celebrations of Yule and the Winter Solstice are from Scandanavian and Germanic cultures, Scotland has it's own history with the shortest day. The event is thought to be even more important than the summer solstice in the pagan calendar because it marks the "re-birth" of the sun for the new year.

Although the solstice happens at exactly the same time for everyone on Earth, the time will be different according to what time zone you live in.

Sunset in the U.S. varies due to the vast geographical size of the country, which has four standard time zones. The areas which are highlighted in gold don't get the sunrise until 7:30 a.m. and later. The areas that are marked as bright green, the sun sets before 4:30 p.m.

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