Last night, or tonight, was/will be the longest night of the year, the original beginning/end of the year.
At about 16:28 UTC – 08:28 here on the leftcoast of Canada – the Earth will reach the point in its orbit about the sun where, due to the tilt of the planet’s axis, the sun reaches its southernmost maximum above the Tropic of Capricorn. High summer in the Southern Hemisphere is matched by midwinter in the Northern Hemisphere.
The cool thing about this is the name we give this day: Solstice. It literally means “Sun stands still”. Through the year the length of the days increase or decrease at uneven rates; the closer to the spring/autumn equinox the faster change, and the closer to the solstices the slower until, the day of the solstice, it remains nearly unchanged.
Almost every culture in the world recognizes the solstices; the further from the equator the more weight the event has had, traditionally. It stands to reason – the turning of the sun presages increasing length of day and a trend toward warmer weather. Most calendar systems base their ending and beginning on their local winter solstice; southern hemisphere cultures marked the June solstice, while northern hemisphere cultures marked the December solstice as the beginning/ending.
“Sundogs appeared on the winter solstice in December 2014.” Photo by Brian Peterson of the Star Tribune, appeared with Kathleen Tucker’s poem ‘Solstice Ode, 2017’ on 19 Dec. 2017.