When it will be winter in 2021? When does the season begin, when is the Winter Solstice, and when is the year’s shortest day?
Depending on whether you follow the astronomical or meteorological calendar, there are two alternative official start dates for winter.
Many of us may have believed that winter has already begun with the arrival of Christmas later this week, but this is not the case.
The winter solstice and the autumnal equinox are the two dates that can determine when winter officially begins. But why are they different, and what is the winter solstice?
When does the winter season begin?
Whether you’re talking about astronomical or meteorological winter, the day when winter officially takes over from fall will vary.
The astronomical calendar, according to the Met Office, shows that winter this year began today, Tuesday, December 21, 2021, and will finish on March 20, 2022.
“The astronomical calendar establishes the seasons owing to the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth’s rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the sun,” the Met Office adds.
“Equinoxes and solstices both have something to do with the earth’s orbit around the sun. Due to the earth’s eccentric orbit around the sun, the dates of the equinox and solstice aren’t set.”
The following are the dates for the astronomical winter in the next years:
- Winter 2022: begins 21 December 2022 and ends 20 March 2023
- Winter 2023: begins 22 December 2023 and ends 20 March 2024
- Winter 2024: begins 21 December 2024 and ends 20 March 2025
The start day of winter is always 1 December, and it finishes on 28 February, or 29 February if it’s a leap year, according to meteorological definitions.
Seasons are divided into four phases, each lasting of three months, according to meteorology:
- Spring, which is March, April and May
- Summer, which is June, July and August
- Autumn, which is September, October and November
- Winter, which is December, January and February
“Seasons are separated to align with our Gregorian calendar, making seasonal and monthly information easier to compare for meteorological monitoring and forecasting,” the Met Office explains.
Winter Season: What is the winter solstice – and when is the shortest day of the year?
The world revolves on a tilted axis, with summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere when the axis leans towards the sun.
The earth’s axis is inclined at its farthest position from the sun at the winter solstice, making it the shortest day of the year and the longest night. The shortest day of the year is Tuesday, December 21st this year.
After the winter solstice, the days will start to grow longer and longer until we reach the summer solstice, which has the year’s longest day and shortest night.
The winter solstice has long been seen as a significant occasion in several civilizations, as it symbolised the changing of the seasons and the possibility of rebirth.
In certain parts of the UK, the winter solstice is still widely observed, with the most popular custom gathering druids, pagans, and general fans to Stonehenge to see the sun rise.
Light is shined into the core of Stonehenge as the sun rises behind the “Heel Stone,” a gigantic boulder of strong sarsen stone that stands apart from the stone circle.
One of the objectives for the creation of Stonehenge, according to legend, was to coincide with the motions of the sun and commemorate two of the most important events in the yearly solar cycle: the winter solstice and the summer solstice.