Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of winter solstice on northern hemisphere

Today, December 21, is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere—the beginning of winter and the day with the shortest daylight period and longest dark period of the year. (Those of you in the southern hemisphere, save this description for June.) Winter solstice celebrations had already been going on for eons before the Christian church co-opted many of its traditions for Christmas, even though evidence strongly suggests that Jesus wasn’t born on (or anywhere near) December 25. It’s a good day to burn a yule log, or light a candle, or do something else symbolic involving light. Also, enjoy the short days while they last!

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