Goodbye daylight. Hello darkness and cold.
Today is the day with the least amount of daylight in the northern hemisphere. We call it winter solstice, and our loss is Australia's gain. After the solstice, the amount of daylight slowly starts to increase again each day.
The winter solstice is the exact moment that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted the farthest it ever gets from the sun. During the Northern Hemisphere's winter, the land north of the equator is tilted away from the sun. This lowers the amount of the sun's warming energy that reaches Earth, hence, winter!
Although the solstice gets an entire day of recognition, it happens in an instant: at 5:44 a.m. EST (1044 GMT), when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This position leaves the North Pole beyond the sun's reach, and plunges it into total darkness, according to EarthSky.org.
One of the most famous solstice celebrations occurs at the ancient Stonehenge ruins in Wiltshire, England, where druids, pagans and other revelers gather each year to celebrate the event.
According to Rick Kline from Cornell University, "Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and many other holidays have arisen out of the solstices, equinoxes and the midpoints between them," he said.
The solstice marks the astronomical beginning of winter, while meteorologists view winter (the three coldest months) as starting Dec. 1. The day of the solstice, however, isn't typically the coldest day of the year. There is a weeks-long lag between the solstice and the coldest average temperature for most spots in the USA.
So for those of you trapped on the north side of the equator, stay warm. Visit a beach in the south, throw another log on the fire, or grab that Clancy Brothers cardigan sweater. Spring is coming! Somewhere. Somehow. Someday. Don't lose hope. Even better, and more certain--Jesus is coming. Soon! That thought warms our hearts from the inside out!
"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).