'Sun standing still': Why do we celebrate the solstice?

5000yo Irish tomb's winter solstice magic to be livestreamed (VIDEO)

In China, the Donghzi Festival takes place on the winter solstice when families get together for a special feast. This amounts to 8 hours and 57 minutes of daylight for December 21st.

A Doodle marking the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere was also released featuring the same mouse reading a book inside his home before getting distracted by a bright beam of sunlight that enters his domain due to a bird.

Solstices and equinoxes are often viewed as spiritual timesWhat's the difference between a solstice and an equinox? The four seasons are based on the Earth's tilt and the Sun's alignment over the Equator. Say goodbye to shorter days, and ever so slowly start to welcome back more sun as the winter solstice arrives on Thursday.

With the celestial body's rays cast on the distant Tropic of Capricorn while the North Pole lies cloaked in shadow, the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere find themselves doomed to several months of long dark nights and low temperatures. "The extra 30 seconds of a solar day makes true solar noon - and sunrise and sunset - about 30 seconds later each day". This line is tilted 23.5° from Earth's orbital path around the Sun.

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. It typically occurs around Dec. 21 or 22, though on rare occasions it can be as early as Dec. 20 or as late as Dec. 23, according to the Weather Channel.

Image source Asian Bistro
Image source Asian Bistro

It is not the coldest days of winter, as the northern hemisphere continues to lose more heat than it gains. It's a yearly astronomical turning point that humans have celebrated for millennia (just think Stonehenge or the ancient Maya). After today, we slowly begin our climb back up the hill with days getting a touch longer every single day until we see almost the same amount of day and night on March 20th, 2018 for the spring equinox.

This delay in the arrival of our coldest temperatures is better known as seasonal lag.

Get ready, Thursday night is going to be a long one.

So far we have only considered the tilt of the Earth.

You may have noticed the sun deeper toward the southern horizon through the fall.

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