Many of us know that the winter solstice is a celebration of the changing seasons, but there's a lot more to it than that!
You might be surprised to learn that what you thought you knew about the December solstice isn't exactly correct.
Like with many word-of-mouth stories, the facts about what actually happens during the winter solstice have become jumbled over the years.
Many people actually get it wrong - but do you?
10. There are TWO solstices
In December, the Northern Hemisphere, celebrates the winter solstice - it is the shortest day of the year. But, in the same month, the Southern Hemisphere celebrates the longest day of the year - it is their summer solstice.
9. First Day Of Winter - Or, Is it?
Astronomers consider the winter solstice as the first day of winter.
But, meteorologists say that winter starts on December 1st.
8. It isn't actually a whole day
Some people believe that the December Solstice lasts the whole day, but they're wrong. It's an event that happens at a specific moment: when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn.
This year, December solstice is on December 21 at 10:44 UTC.
7. It's not always on the same day
The date actually changes depending on the position of the earth and the sun. The December Solstice can happen on December 20, 21, 22 or 23 - but it's pretty rare to have a solstice on the 20 or the 23.
The last time we had a solstice on Dec. 23 was in 1903 and it won't happen again until 2303!
6. The Sun 'Stands Still' - but not actually.
The word solstice is Latin for solstitium, which means 'the Sun stands still.
On this day, the Sun reaches it's southern-most position as seen from the Earth and looks like it's 'standing still' at the Tropic of Capricorn before reversing in the other direction.
5. Daylight Hours Increase faster in the North
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you're likely to see your daylight hours increase faster compared to your friends living in the south.
4. It's why we celebrate Christmas on Dec. 24
Since there is no specific date mentioned for the birth of Christ, many believe that the first Christians picked the pagan winter solstice as the best day to celebrate the birth of Christ.
The pagan celebration was a festival that symbolized light, re-birth and the start of the New Year.
3. Remember when we thought it was doomsday?
In 2012, many people believed that December 21 would be the end of the Earth because the Mayan calendar stopped on that day. It didn't happen.
2. The earliest sunset does NOT happen on the Solstice
Again, contrary to popular belief, the earliest sunset actually happens a few days before the Solstice and the latest sunrise happens a few days after.
This happens because the way we measure time changed when we graduated from sundials to watches.
The number one thing everyone gets wrong about Solstice:
The Earth isn't farthest from the Sun.
Seasons are not defined by how far the Earth is from the sun.
They occur because Earth orbits around the sun on a slant. It is the slant (axial tilt) that affects the amount of sunlight that reaches the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
The Earth is actually closest to the Sun during winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Either way, it's official - winter is here!
Are you in the 4%? Did you get #1 right?
Let us know in the comments below!