Everybody has noticed that it’s pitch black by 4.30 pm and it feels as if the sun doesn’t rise (if you can see it!) until mid-morning. With the shortest day of the year coming up, we answer how long is it and when is the shortest day this year.
The days of warm evenings and sunny mornings seem far away at the moment, with many people starting work in the dark and leaving in the dark too. It can only mean one thing — the shortest day of the year is almost upon us. It’s always around Christmas time, meaning it often gets forgotten about, but how long it actually is will probably make you wince.
When Is The Shortest Day This Year?
The Winter Solstice occurs on Wednesday, December 21 in 2022, so there are only a few days to go. In the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day typically occurs on either December 21 or 22 each year. However, it can be the 20 or 23 of December, but this is very rare.
From this point onwards the days will start getting longer again and we will be through the worst of the darkness. In some countries, the shortest day marks the first day of winter, though the freezing temperatures of late have us thinking we’re beyond that point already! Others believe that the day marks the middle of winter.
The opposite is the Summer Solstice which occurs six months before. The longest day of the year in 2022, or the first day of summer, was June 21.
The History Behind The Winter Solstice
The day has been significant since prehistory and has been celebrated by numerous cultures around the world through time. The shortest day of the year has often been marked with festivals and rituals, as cultures believed that the day represented the symbolic rebirth of the sun.
In Neothilic times, the sun and other astronomical readings were used to guide activities such as crop season and the monitoring of food. In the Northern Hemisphere, the early months of the year were known as the ‘starvation months’ where food would be in short supply and nothing would grow. People would then have their last feast on the shortest day of the year and slaughter any livestock that could not be fed going forward. Therefore, it was the only time of the year when there was a bountiful supply of fresh meat.
To this day, the day is noted by several cultures all around the world.
How Long Is The Shortest Day Of The Year 2022?
In London, the shortest day will be 7 hours and 43 minutes long. This means that the sun will only rise for this amount of time and will not rise above a certain point in the sky. This is almost 9 hours shorter than the longest day of the year back in June.
However, the actual Winter Solstice is only the singular moment when the Earth has tilted the furthest away from the song. This will occur at 21.48, but it’s quite common to mark the day in general.
However, in Scotland, the shortest day of the year will actually be less than 7 hours. The sun will rise for 6 hours, 58 minutes and 58 seconds before getting longer the very next day. This means that their Winter Solstice is 10 hours and 36 minutes shorter than the longest day.
With everybody caught up in Christmas, it’s easy to forget about the shortest day of the year. However, the day is still a nice reminder that we are halfway out of the dark. Warm weather is on the horizon!