Winter Solstice / 1st Day of Winter

Quick Facts - IN

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2023 Date21 December 2023
2024 Date21 December 2024

Beginning of Winter (Winter Solstice)

Beginning of Winter (Winter Solstice) in
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The Winter Solstice, popularly known as the Beginning of Winter, is an astronomical event that marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is significant as it signals the beginning of the cold season. This event holds substantial importance in many cultures, including Indian culture, due to its significance in solar and lunar patterns. It greatly influences factors like climate, seasons, and traditional practices.

The observance of the Winter Solstice has roots that span centuries in Indian history. Traditionally, this period represents a time of introspection, renewal, and celebration of the return of light in many parts of India. The solstice has significant relevance to the Indian agricultural calendar, as it marks the start of the rabi crop season. Similarly, in astrological circles, the Winter Solstice is recognized for its potential to create significant shifts in energy and consciousness.

In India, the Winter Solstice is observed in varying ways across different regions. In states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Punjab, it is celebrated as Lohri or Uttarayan with bonfires and flying kites respectively, symbolizing the discarding of social ills and the celebration of the sun which rewards them with a good harvest. It usually occurs about December 21. As the solstices are directly linked to the Earth's orbit around the sun, the dates do not significantly differ across countries. Thus, like most parts of the world, India too recognizes the Winter Solstice around the same time each year.

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Facts about Winter Solstice

  • On the Winter Solstice, there are 24 hours of sunlight in the Antarctic Circle, and 24 hours of darkness in the Arctic Circle.
  • Many pagan rituals have revolved around the Winter Solstice. The short days and long hours of darkness prompted rituals intended to lure the Sun back.
  • There is a tradition in the northern part of China to eat "Lidong water" or "winter water", which is the water stored overnight. Drinking it is believed to protect from the cold and diseases.
  • Makar Sankranti is celebrated with various rituals and festivities across the country. In the northern states, people take a holy dip in the Ganges river and perform special prayers to Lord Surya (the Sun God). In southern India, the festival is known as Pongal and is celebrated by preparing a sweet dish made of newly harvested rice, jaggery, and milk.
  • In several states of India, especially in Gujarat and Rajasthan, kite flying is an important tradition associated with Makar Sankranti. Families gather on rooftops, and colorful kites fill the sky as people celebrate the Winter Solstice and the sun's northward journey.

Top things to do in India for the Winter Solstice

  • Purchase a Christmas tree. Tip: For a more environmentally friendly Christmas, purchase a Live trees in a burlap root sack that can be planted after the holiday.
  • Watch the lunar eclipse which happens within several days of the winter solstice.
  • Curl up with a good book near a warm fireplace or under a cozy blanket. Select books that capture the essence of winter, such as snowy adventures or heartwarming stories set in the winter season.
  • Sip on warm and comforting drinks like masala chai (spiced tea), hot chocolate, or mulled wine. Experiment with different flavors and recipes to suit your taste preferences.

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