NORTHERN HEMISPHERE — Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, with the longest night, marking the point during the year when the Northern Hemisphere is the most inclined away from the Sun.
The day is the official start of winter and yet each day from now will grow ever-so-gradually longer as the sun returns. On Winter Solstice, the polar North receives no energy from the Sun. After the solstice, which falls on December 21 or 22 every year, the days begin to lengthen.
Locally, Solstice will occur precisely at 2:44 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21, PST.
Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied across cultures, but many have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time. Lighting lanterns or candles, ringing bells, and burning wishes in a fire are all ways families can celebrate the solstice and return of light.