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Winter Solstice

21st December, 2023 Geography

Winter Solstice

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  • 21st December or the Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • The same day marks the Summer Solstice, the year's longest day, in the Southern Hemisphere.

About Solstice

  • The word's Latin meaning is "stalled sun." It is a twice-yearly natural occurrence that takes place in both the summer and the winter in each hemisphere of the planet.

What is Winter Solstice?

  • In the Northern Hemisphere, it is often referred to as the "first day of winter" and the "Hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice."
  • It is the shortest day and longest night of the year.
  • At this time, the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5° south) is where the Sun shines overhead, with countries in the Northern Hemisphere being the furthest from the Sun.
  • The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which are north and south of the Equator, are located at latitudes of 23.5°.
  • The Arctic and Antarctic Circles, to the north and south, are at 66.5°.
  • A location's latitude indicates how far it is from the Equator.
  • On June 21, the Summer Solstice the longest day of the year will occur in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day in the Southern Hemisphere, reversing the current scenario.
  • According to Vedic tradition, the Surya Siddhanta, which describes the Uttarayana (the time between Makar Sankranti and Karka Sankranti), indirectly acknowledges the Earth's northern migration on the celestial sphere.
  • Therefore, the first day of Uttarayana is the Winter Solstice.

Geography behind Solstice

  • The tilt of the Earth is the cause of the varying day lengths.
  • The tilt of the Earth's rotational axis with respect to its orbital plane is 23.5°.
  • Everywhere on the planet experiences a varied length of day because of changes in the duration of sunlight caused by this tilt as well as other factors like Earth's spin and orbit.
  • With its tilt towards the Sun for half of the year, the Northern Hemisphere enjoys lengthy summer days with direct sunlight.
  • It tilts away from the Sun during the other half of the year, resulting in shorter days.
  • The tilt is also the cause of Earth's distinct seasons.
  • Seasonal variations in the year are brought about by this phenomenon, which causes the Sun to migrate from the northern to the southern hemisphere and vice versa.


Examine the scientific significance and cultural manifestations of the phenomena of Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice. Discuss how these celestial events impact various aspects of human life, ranging from agriculture to cultural practices.