Google Doodle is celebrating Winter 2021 with an animated graphic. It features a hedgehog walking on the snow. Today’s animated graphic is similar to the one it had tweeted on June 21 with the caption: “As the Earth tilts on its axis, many across the Southern Hemisphere prepare to chill out for the next few months… Happy first day of Winter! #GoogleDoodle.”
December 21 marks the Winter Solstice. Also known as December solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice, the event takes place when one of the Earth’s pole is tilted away from the sun at its maximum distance. Apparently, this causes the day to have the shortest period of daylight due to being away from the sun, with the longest night of the year.
This day is marked once every year on either December 21 or 22 mostly in countries witnessing the winter season, like UK, US, India, Russia, China and Canada.
The precise moment of the winter solstice – when the Earth’s north pole points directly away from the sun, and the sun is directly over the tropic of capricorn, at about 23.4 degrees south – takes place at 09:28 PM IST. The Winter solstice sunrise will be at 7:10 am and sunset at 5:29 pm, according to drikpanchang.
The winter solstice is also popularly said to mark the ‘birth of the sun’, as for the hemisphere away from the star, the days begin to get longer after today, while the nights will start to get shorter. For the December solstice, it is the northern hemisphere that is away from the Sun, while it marks the commencement of astronomical summer in the southern hemisphere.
The word ‘Solstice’ is derived from the Latin scientific term ‘solstitium’. While ‘sol’ stands for sun, the past participle of ‘sistere’ means “to make stand.” Therefore, the loose translation of solstice means ‘sun standing still’. Since time immemorial, there are various traditions and rituals associated with the day. In Iran, people celebrate the festival of Yalda, while it marked the birth of Mithra, the ancient sun god, in the pre-Islamic times.
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