Winter is Here! And Here’s How We Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Each year, we brace ourselves for the coldest season. Today, winter is upon us. And every year, we celebrate the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year.

Meteorologically speaking

Identified by the Gregorian calendar, meteorological seasons are defined as groupings of three full months or one quarter of the year. These months are calculated by temperatures, with summer as the hottest and winter – as you would guess – the coldest. Meteorologists back in the early to mid-20th century set the seasons on the same day every year. They believed that keeping this consistency can result in precise climatological statistics.

In Australia, the meteorological seasons are the most popularly known way to map the year. Majority of Australians consider winter to start from June 1st to the end of August – approximately three calendar months or a quarter of the year.

Astronomically speaking

The Summer and Winter Solstices are the points in our planet’s orbit wherein the tilt is leaning towards (Summer) or away (Winter) from the Sun. Australia’s Winter Solstice happens as the southern hemisphere is directed most away from the Sun. As it happens, the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun, which means it is the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere.

Winter Solstice in Australia

In 2020, Australians celebrate the Winter Solstice on June 21st.

What is it about the Winter Solstice that makes it special to Australians? For starters, the Aboriginal community in Australia was said to have been the first ones to celebrate the change in seasons with the Winter Solstice.

The day marks the beginning of a new solar year, which is widely known as Yule or midwinter. Much like Christmas, the Winter Solstice is traditionally a time of feasting and celebration, as it is the middle of the cold season as well as the start of the journey to longer days until Spring.

How Australians celebrate tradition

Like in the Yuletide Season, Australians choose a special Yule log to burn on a hearth. Traditionally, the log must come from the root of a hardwood tree. Ideal logs for this activity include Tasmanian Oak, Mallee roots, and all kinds of Eucalyptus. As the burning wood dies out, the remains are kept and used for next year’s Yule log burning.

As part of the tradition, families and friends also gather and join in on the merriment and local festivities.

Beyond conventional celebrations

Take advantage of the light

Because this is the shortest day of the year, you only have a limited time to relish the day. Try to make the most of it by going outdoors and connecting with nature. Go hiking with your friends, or enjoy a warm cuppa outside and read a good book. Remember, there is only so much time in the day – enjoy it while you can.

Give back to Mother Nature

Because the Winter Solstice celebrates the new solar year and a new season, we also celebrate nature. What better way to do this than to give back to the environment! Reach out to organisations dedicated to protecting the ecosystem. Do volunteer work in nature charity groups. Plant trees, donate funds, or devise a community beach clean-up – whatever contribution you provide will have an impact on the environment in the future.

Focus on you

With all the trouble that is happening in the world today, we must maintain our inner peace. The Winter Solstice is also a day of quiet energy. Take time to reflect on yourself and focus on your personal goals. This is your opportunity to remember what is most important to you and leave out everything that does not give you peace of mind. This is your moment of personal and spiritual awakening as you continue to move forward with your life.

Whichever way you spend the Winter Solstice, keep in mind that it is a time of cheer, reflection, and hope – whether you are in the company of friends and family or by yourself. Past the science is where you will find the humanity behind the meaning of the Winter Solstice. Cherish this day as you only get to celebrate it once a year.

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