Tags: winter solstice | meteorologist

It's Winter, Everyone! (Unless You're a Meteorologist)

It's Winter, Everyone! (Unless You're a Meteorologist)

Bolivia's Aymara Indians -- who are celebrating the year 5,525 -- marked the Southern Hemisphere's winter solstice on June 21, the start of a new agricultural cycle. (Juan Karita/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 21 December 2017 11:37 AM

It's winter on Thursday, at least officially, as the winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Days will get longer, only by seconds, as the Earth moves into spring, but the cold temperatures will persist for months still, The Washington Post noted.

The Earth leans away from the sun at it farthest point during the winter solstice, according to the website Active Times, and the word derives from the Latin word solstitium, which translates to "the Sun stands still."

The winter and summer solstices, along with the equinoxes, have often played a large role in the myth and folklore of various cultures, USA Today reported.

"Culturally, the solstices and equinoxes are typically used to denote either the beginnings of the seasons or the center points of the seasons," as in England, said Rick Kline of the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility at Cornell University.

"Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holidays have arisen out of the solstices, equinoxes and the midpoints between them," Kline added.

Over the years, ancient cultures from Europe to the Americas have developed customs and rituals to revel in the journey toward summer and warmer days.

The Sun reported that hundreds of people gather at Stonehenge in England for the winter solstice, gathering in the early morning to watch the sun rise over the stones.

Many also return to Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice, in June, marking the longest day of the year.

The ancient stonewalled Mayan city of Tulum in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula also has a structure honoring the solstices, according to Live Science.com, and when the sun rises on the winter and summer solstices, its rays shine through a small hole at the top of one of the stone buildings, which creates a starburst effect.

For meteorologists, though, it is Dec. 1, not Dec. 22, that marks the beginning of winter, typically the coldest three months from December through February, USA Today said. The coldest days of the month often lag behind the winter solstice, coming in mid-January for cities like Chicago, Boston and even Miami.

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It's winter on Thursday, at least officially, as the winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere.
winter solstice, meteorologist
353
2017-37-21
Thursday, 21 December 2017 11:37 AM
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