The Winter Solstice for 2017 occurs on December 21st which is the shortest day of the year. The Solstices (occurring in both December for the shortest day and June for the longest day) is wrapped up in tradition and ritual. It been celebrated by pagans for thousands of years, and many of the traditions now associated with Christmas had their roots in winter solstice celebrations - including the Christmas tree and yule logs.
The Druids - the priests of the ancient Celts - used evergreen trees , holly and mistletoe as symbols of everlasting life during winter solstice rituals. Cutting them down and putting them in their homes would have been too destructive to nature. But when Saint Boniface, also known as Winfrith of Crediton, found a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree in 8th Century Germany, he cut the tree down. The rituals soon became part of Christmas.
According to the Farmer's Almanac, the winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the whole year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it always occurs around December 21 or 22. (In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs around June 20 or 21.) It is also considered the first day of Winter.
In 2017, the Winter Solstice arrives at:
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm UTC
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 11:28 am EST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 10:28 am CST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 9:28 am MST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 8:28 am PST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 7:28 am AKST
- Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 6:28 am HAST