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The First Day of Winter: Winter Solstice 2023

The first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the winter solstice, which occurs on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at 10:27 P.M. EST.The winter solstice marks the official beginning of astronomical winter (as opposed to meteorological winter, which starts about three weeks before the solstice). The winter solstice occurs once a year in each hemisphere: once in the Northern Hemisphere (in December) and once in the Southern Hemisphere (in June). It marks the start of each hemisphere’s winter season. When one hemisphere is experiencing its winter solstice, the other is simul-taneously experiencing its summer solstice!This is all thanks to Earth’s tilted axis, which makes it so that one-half of Earth is pointed away from the Sun, and the other half is pointed towards it at the time of the solstice. We often think of the winter solstice as an event that spans an entire calendar day, but the solstice actually lasts only a mo-ment. Specifically, it’s the exact moment when a hemisphere is tilted as far away from the Sun as possible. The winter solstice holds significance across a variety of cultures, as it signals the changing of the seasons. Some ancient peoples even marked the solstice using huge stone structures, like Newgrange in Ireland. In some cultures, the solstice traditionally marked the midway point of the season rather than the start of it, which explains why holidays such as Midsummer Day are celebrated around the first day of summer.

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