The Winter solstice
happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occured on Wednesday December 21st at 10:44 GMT (Universal time). with the sun rising over Stonhenge at 08:04.
Each year on the 21st December visitors from around the world gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Winter solstice and to see the sunrise above the stones.
The Winter Solstice is the most important day of the year at Stonehenge and a truly magical time to be there. It’s an ad hoc celebration that brings together England’s New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travelers and party people – 100’s of them!
For many the impulse to arrive at Stonehenge in time for the Solstice is a little like all those people drawn to the strange rock in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s akin to a spiritual experience. Anyone who has witnessed the crowd become silent as the sky begins to brighten can attest to that.
Archaeologists believe Stonhenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
It is thought that the winter solstice was actually more important to the people who constructed Stonehenge than the Summer solstice. The winter solstice was a time when cattle was slaughtered so the animals would not have to be fed during the winter.
Pagan leader Arthur Pendragon said: “It is the most important day of the year for us because it welcomes in the new sun.
Astronomical winter typically begins on December 21st, with the winter solstice, and ends on March 19th. Meteorological winter always begins on December 1st and ends on February 28th (February 29th during leap years).