The solstice is celebrated across the world as two individual events at opposite ends of the year, but why are they celebrated and what do they symbolise, and what impact will it have on Newcastle?
What is the winter solstice?
Also known as the December solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice, it is the name given to the day when the earth reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun, meaning either of the earth’s poles is the furthest away from the star during a yearly cycle. This results in the day with the least amount of sunlight in the northern hemisphere.
When is the Winter Solstice this year?
The northern hemisphere will see the shortest day of the year on Tuesday 21 December this year. The day remains the same each year, with the exception of leap years when it falls on 22 December.
How long will the day be in Newcastle this winter solstice?
In total, Newcastle will see seven hours and 10 minutes of true daylight on December 21 with an additional hour and a half of civil twilight, which is considered to be the period before sunrise and after sunset when some sunlight still remains in the sky.
Civil daylight is due to begin at 7:43am with any sunlight set to be lost again by 4:24pm that evening. True daylight is expected between 8:28am and 3:39pm.
Sunrise and sunset times change depending on where in the country you are based, with southern areas getting more daylight and longer days than their northern counterparts.
This is reversed during the summer solstice, when us northerners get the longer periods of daylight due to the curvature of the earth.
Why do people celebrate the winter solstice?
Going back to prehistoric times, the day has been a vital part of the calendar, with many cultures seeing it as the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun.
The day is traditionally marked across the world with the Hindu calendar, Iranian culture and Pagan festivities all marking the day with celebrations.