What to know about the Winter Solstice
When is the winter solstice, anyway, and what exactly is it? Technically, the name of the event that happens this month is the Winter Solstice, hiemal solstice, or hibernal solstice. In 2021, the winter solstice is happening on Tuesday, December 21 at 10:59 EST in the Northern Hemisphere. As for what exactly it is that will take a little longer to answer.
The winter solstice is rooted in an astronomical event. During this time, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. This means the Northern Hemisphere is tilted farthest away from the sun, which is why it’s the shortest day of the year. After the winter solstice, the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt towards the sun again, which is why the days get longer.
During ancient times, Yule was a time to celebrate the halfway point of Winter, the strengthening or returning of the Sun, and what that meant in reference to their local deities and way of life. Norse Pagans called it Jól, Old English Pagans called it Geol, Danish Pagans called it Jul, and each culture celebrated this winter holiday in alignment with nature and their local deities.
Spiritually, the Winter Solstice is a good time to recognize the hardships you have overcome, release negative energy, and celebrate the things in life that truly bring you joy. Practice rituals that celebrate the optimistic points in your life. Celebrate the change of the seasons with rituals that recognize how our lifestyles match the natural flow of Earth. Look back on your ancestral history and discover how your ancestors celebrated during the Yule season.
As today’s non-christians revert the holiday back to its original sabbat, some people recognize that we are celebrating the Pagan Christmas, or the version of Christmas that existed before Christ. The Winter Solstice literally happens for everyone, regardless of what their culture calls it. So, it’s a great fallback term if you are unsure of where your path is taking you.