Winter solstice is also known as the "first day of winter" in the northern hemisphere as well as hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice.
"Solstice" is a Latin word that means "stalled sun". A solstice occurs twice a year once in the summer and again during winter.
It's the shortest day of the year for those living in the Northern Hemisphere. The day marked as winter solstice, and falls on 21 December every year.
As winter begins, the days will gradually get longer again from this time of the year.
Search engine giant Google is celebrating winter solstice with a doodle which shows a hedgehog walking on the snow. In a tweet, the Google Doodles handle said, "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."
Around this time every year, countries in the northern hemisphere are farthest from the Sun and the Sun shines overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn. The Earth's axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees as it rotates around the Sun. This phenomenon causes the movement of the Sun from the northern to the southern hemisphere and vice versa bringing in seasonal changes in the year.
The sunrise on the shortest day was predicted at 7:10am, while the sunset is expected to take place at 5:29pm.
Ancient Romans celebrated the day in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture. A week-long celebration would lead up to the winter solstice. In the United Kingdom, people traditionally gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise and sunset on the winter solstice. But this year, owing to the pandemic, the gatherings won't be allowed but people can watch it online. The Japanese believe that the Sun gets stronger from this day, bringing with it good fortune for the people. The Chinese call the winter solstice Dong Zhi meaning "winter arrives"'.