December Solstice is the date that the sun reaches its southernmost position over our planet for the year. This year, the actual time the sun moves to southernmost point will be at 17:11 UTC on December 21st.
The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the equator. Those living or travelling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.
On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight. Those living or traveling north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.
How Different Countries Celebrate December Solstice
Many cultures have their own interpretations and celebrations to December Solstice, also called Winter Solstice.
In America, the Native American honor Winter Solstice by making prayer sticks. Prayers sticks are made out of cedar and are forked and equivalent to the measurement from the maker’s elbow to the tips of their fingers. If you want to make your own a prayer stick see directions here: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/native-american-solstice-celebration.html
In China, the December Solstice means a happy get-together. Chinese put on their best clothes, visit friends and celebrate it late into the longest night. Additionally, the Chinese often celebrate by eating stuffed dumpling, a food made of glutinous rice and served in soup, with their family or friends.
In Japan, people usually take a a hot yuzu bath. Yuzu is a small yellow or green citrus fruit grown in East Asia. The Japanese believe that taking yuzu bath on December Solstice will help prevent colds for the coming year.
In Korea, people make and eat red bean porridge to celebrate. Red beans mean the chasing away of evil spirits, and the rice balls symbolize new life. As a result, a delicious bowl of red bean porridge on Winter Solstice was believed to chase away all illnesses.
Do you celebrate the winter Solstice? How?