The Winter Solstice occurs when either of Earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It is also commonly referenced as the “darkest” day of the year — when Americans get as little as six hours of daylight — also making it the “shortest” day of the year.
According to the National Weather Service, the exact timing of this event will happen at 10:21 p.m. EST.
While this day is referred to as the darkest and shortest, other cultures have found reason to celebrate it. This excerpt describes it as a time to remember that the sun, and warmer brighter days, will be making their return:
“People in Mesopotamia, Persia, Babylon, and even ancient Greece and Rome all held celebrations in late December and early January, rejoicing at the Sun’s impending triumph over darkness. The life-giving Sun had “bottomed out” and was beginning its long march back to the north, foreshadowing warmer weather in the future.”