How to celebrate winter solstice – from Stonehenge to watching a meteor shower
Winter solstice: Met Office explains what happens
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The Winter Solstice will mark the days finally getting longer again after months of early nights and dark mornings. December 21 heralds the first day of winter and is the day with the shortest period of daylight in the northern hemisphere.
Why is winter solstice celebrated?
There are two solstices every year; with the winter solstice in December and the summer solstice in June – but this depends on whether you live in the northern or Southern Hemisphere.
Earth sits at an angle of about 23.5 degrees, and throughout the year as the earth moves around the sun, the north and south receive opposing amounts of light.
The solstice marks the moment in time that one of the Earth’s poles is at its maximum tilt toward the sun.
READ MORE: Stonehenge winter solstice celebrations – the key historic traditions
Cultures around the world celebrate the winter solstice in a variety of ways, but many public celebrations have once again been dampened by the surge of the Omicron variant.
In Japan, yuzu fruits are thrown into hot springs and public baths as a marker of good luck for the season to come.
In Scandinavia, fires are lit and special outfits are worn in honour of St Lucia.
In Peru, the Inti Raymi festival marks the solstice – but how can you celebrate the winter solstice in the UK this year?
Watch the Ursid meteor shower
The skies of this year’s longest night will have a remarkable celestial spectacle on show.
The Ursid meteor shower will be visible on earth on December 21.
For the best chance at seeing meteors, find an area away from city lights with a wide view of the sky in the early hours of the morning.
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Watch from Stonehenge
Twice a year, revellers gather at the ancient site of Stonehenge to celebrate the summer and winter solstices.
Events are still taking place as restrictions on gatherings are not currently in place, and will begin before sunrise on the morning of December 22.
If you can’t make it in person, you can watch on the official Stonehenge or English Heritage Facebook page, or the English Heritage YouTube or Instagram channels.
Get creative at home
Winter solstice has a wealth of traditions associated with it, many of which are easy to do from the comfort of your own home.
A common tradition is to decorate a yule tree in ornaments that symbolise the sun, moon and stars – which you can easily add to your Christmas tree.
You can also set up a yule altar by decorating a sideboard with candles, holly, and evergreen stalks.
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