Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year or the longest night of the year, depending on your perspective. The solstice also marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. 

The Winter Solstice Celebration goes back thousands of years in many different cultures. It was a special celebration of the Druids and Celts and centered on the yule log as part of pagan rituals. In ancient Rome, it was known as the Feast of Saturnalia.

Often, in ancient days, Winter Solstice marked a time of dread. Winter was harder on people in those days because of food shortages, long periods of darkness, illness, and cold. No flick of the switch or turning up the furnace. Those who were lucky lived through the hard winters.

Today we are more fortunate. Winter time marks more colds and flu, rain, snow, sleet and other nasty weather. Winter also can bring on SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder which can cause depression and general malaise in some people. Most of the time, however, these conditions are not life-threatening to modern man.

The good news about Winter Solstice is that the days will now get longer, at least until June 21 or whatever date the Summer Solstice falls on. This year, the shortest day of the year will have only 9 hours 27 minutes of daylight between sun up and sun down, in Manassas. To calculate this for yourself, you can go to the Naval Observatory website and find most locations.

Many people love winter time and say they would miss the seasons if they moved to Florida or Hawaii. Others hate it. How do you feel about this much maligned season? Is it as bad as people say?  Is it deadly to the poor?  How about in the Dakotas and other northern plains areas?


For 25 years the Paul Winter Winter Solstice has been celebrated in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Enjoy some scenes from this winter extravaganza. Winter Solstice is not just for pagans any more!

36 Thoughts to “Happy Winter Solstice: The Shortest Day”

  1. Chris

    I’m glad the days will be getting longer now. I’d just said to my husband this morning, this is the shortest day of the year. I hate all the hours of darkness and the cold to boot.

    Is it summer yet? 😉
    It can’t get here soon enough.

    Wow! Seasonal Affective Disorder? What the heck is that? Is that the new term for Daylight Deprivation?

  2. Censored bybvbl

    A friend of mine grew up in the upper Midwest where there was snow – and a lot of it -on the ground all winter long. I said “that must be depressing”, but she said “No way near as depressing as it is here. There the sunlight bounces off the snow and the atmosphere is cold but bright. Here it’s miserably grey.” Another perspective.

    I’m always glad to see the Winter Solstice come and then go because I like more daylight. It’s so dark now that I feel as though I should be going to sleep by eight o’clock.

    This winter may bring more economic, and, therefore, physical hardship to a lot of people given how tight budgets are.

  3. Moon-howler

    S.A.D. is a condition that seriously affects some people because they do not get enough sunlight in a day. There are special lights that they sit under for x hours a day to combat the condition. I have known a couple people who had a mild case of it. More serious cases are actually dysfunctional during the winter.

    Probably not a good idea to move to the Yukon if you suffer from this disorder.

  4. Firedancer

    Thanks for the posting, MH 🙂

  5. Moon-howler

    Firedancer, HOWL!!!

    I hope you enjoyed it. I thought of you when I wrote it up.

  6. Chris

    I was not doubting the seriousness of the condition. Myself and a couple of other family members suffer with Daylight Deprivation(we hibernate). I hate winter weather.There’s some place the suicide rate is UFB due to the lack of sunlight, and they often go to tanning beds for light.

  7. Firedancer

    Wow, MH, thanks even more!

    I LOVE winter. I love cold, gray days, with a hint of a snowstorm on its way. I love falling snow, when the world is transformed into a peaceful world of white. I love shoveling or walking in the snow while it’s still falling, being enveloped in the quiet mystery of nature. NO seasonal affective disorder for me! But all the seasons have their beautiful mysteries, and I enjoy each one.

  8. Firedancer

    Chris, I just noticed what you wrote before mine. It’s funny how people are so different. I’ve always believed I love winter so much because my birthday is in February! I grew up playing outdoors in winter, ice skating and skiing, and I just love the snow.

  9. Firedancer

    Also in the color analysis, what colors to wear with your skin tone, I’m a winter.

  10. Moon-howler

    I love the winter but wish it were a little shorter.

    Chris, I didn’t think you were making light. I guess that SAD and Daylight deprivation are the same things. Sounds like it, doesn’t it? There are actual SAD booths. I think people in Canada and pacific northwest use them more than we do here.

    I would like winter a lot better if daylight savings time were year-round.

    I agree with Firedancer. Each season has its own special highlights. Fall is my favorite.

  11. Moon-howler

    Winter here also. Uncharacteristically winter.——–> for Firedancer

  12. Moon-howler

    Newgrange Passage Tomb is a renown megalithic chamber which emits light during the winter solstice. They did a livestream from there at 8:30 GMT this morning. It was uneventful because of the cloud cover. There is a lottery to see who gets to go in and witness the coming of winter.

    I will post more in the next link about this 3000 plus year sructure. If I post here I will probably get hung up in spam.

  13. Moon-howler

    More on Newgrange Passage Tomb. To me, this stuff is facinating. How did ancient man built all of this or have the knowledge to build it? UFB. I guess we will never know.

  14. Chris

    Winter seems worth while if there’s lots of snow on the ground. However, we don’t live in a pituresque place for winter. I like to ski, sled, and ice skate, but I hate the cold. Some of my fondest childhood memories of sledding at the Stone House at the Manassas National Battlefield.

    I’m a summer on the color wheel, and it’s my favorite. Wonder if that’s got anything to do with it. 😉

  15. TWINAD


    Do they still allow sledding on that hill at the Battlefield? If they do, I’ll have to keep that in mind for my 7 year old if we get enough “sleddable” snow this year!

  16. Chris

    I’m not sure if they still do or not. We’ve not had good sleddable snow in a few years. I rarely see the battlefield “patrolled” as it was in my younger days. If I find out for sure, you’ll be the first to know. I was at the Stone House early this spring, and didn’t see any sign saying “no sledding”. This was a long standing “Manassas tradition” for years, and I’d really hate to think it longer existed. Ahhh, yester-year! 😉

  17. Censored bybvbl

    An acquaintance of mine lived in a house which had a living room with three floor-to-ceiling walls two stories high. She said that when it snowed, it was like being in a snow globe. I’d enjoy that – the feeling of being in the snow storm but still warm, dry, and supplied by a nice coffee or cognac.

    Chris, was cross country skiing ever allowed at the battlefield?

  18. Chris

    I’ve seen cross country skiing there within the last year or two. I don’t see how cross country skiing is really any different from walking the battlefields. Of course, that’s just my opinion as to why it shouldn’t be a problem. I really don’t sledding should either.

    I love snow globes. I would enjoy what you friend has experienced.Snow makes the winter worth while, and I love Christmas decorations as well. The tallest lit tree in WG sits on good ole Lafayette, and it has a star at the top the reads Merry Christmas you can see it from Lomond Drive.

  19. Censored bybvbl

    Chris, I thought my sister and father used to go cross country skiing at the battlefield but that would have been a couple decades ago so I wasn’t sure.

    I’ll have to look for the star. We haven’t really been out looking at the lights this year. We’d better hop to it.

    Speaking of lights – one of the comments I made that got deleted from the dark dungeon concerned inflatable Christmas decorations. My walking partner and I – both naive about the nature of inflatable Christmas decorations and not knowing that most were deflated during the daytime – passed some pools of plastic which had been inflated the day before and we surmised that they had been victims of some drive-by pranksters with a bb gun. I relayed the story on BVBL and said it looked like a drive-by shooting and ZAP! That post disappeared at warp speed.

    What neighborhoods have the most interesting decorations?

  20. Alanna

    Holy Smokes. I have a neighbor that ABSOLUTELY would take the cake on decorations. They have gone completely overboard, there appears to be very little yard left. Maybe I’ll try to take a picture and post it, you guys would get a kick out of it for sure.

  21. Censored bybvbl

    Alanna, that would be great if you could get a night shot.

  22. Chris

    Censored-Sudley has my personal favorite is on Forrester. The Bonfadini’s have the best. Growing up every year a new moving item was added to the yard. It was always the “latest and greatest” toy or “it thing” of the season. The yard is now completely covered. They’d stopped for a few years, and had them up last year, and maybe the year before. They’ve been wrote up many time in the papers and have been on the local news too.

    Is your neighbor Clark Griswald? 🙂

  23. Moon-howler

    All the kids that grew up in Manassas grew up on Bonfidini at Christmas and sledding at the Stone House. I saw people sledding there last year I believe…but not for long because there wasn’t much snow. John Bonfidini stopped putting up his display for several years. I think some vandalism did him in. However, once the grandkids arrived, he started up again. It is quite an undertaking and is well worth the drive in to ‘town’ to see his display. Every cartoon character or adventure hero ever thought of sits in his yard on Forrester. What is new this year? There is just too much to figure it out.

  24. Former FBI Agent and ACLU Counsel: St. Paul Police Behavior Is ‘Frightening’

  25. Red Dawn

    This will be the last year for the Bonfidini Christmas display. I read it in the MJM a week or so ago 🙁

  26. Moon-howler

    People will talk him into continuing to do it. He is a Manassas Christmas tradition.

  27. Chris

    I think we’ll see the lights every other year. I will be going by there this evening hopefully to see what this years new item is. A Manassas tradition, indeed!!

  28. Moon-howler

    Chris, let me know if you discover it. I don’t think those Bonfadini grandkids will allow him to take a year off. Does anyone want to place a bet?

  29. Censored bybvl

    OMG! We just toured some neighborhoods tonight and made sure we checked out the Bonfadinis’ display. What a hoot!

  30. Red Dawn

    The Bonfadini Christmas display is shadowed by the commercial made items for display,that could EASILY fill up a yard. If you drove past the house and didn’t know the HEART FILLED(handmade) HISTORY of the place, people may not stop to take a peak. Our family went by a couple of weeks ago and were happy to see they put it up again…. only to read that article.

    I can understand if they do not continue. There is a lot of work that went into creating it ,putting it up and storing it. Can you imagine?
    They have touched so many people, GENERATIONS 🙂
    I think it just comes down to appreciation??? There is a letter box to Santa….drop a letter if you can to let them know how you feel or donate to their cause 🙂

    “People will talk him into continuing to do it. He is a Manassas Christmas tradition.”

    If not, he might auction it off for the cause that he supports 🙂
    I would buy, but I hope he continues. I bet he would if he see’s the apprea.

  31. Red Dawn

    “I bet he would if he see’s the apprea.”

    appreciation, he may continue 🙂

  32. Firedancer

    A heavy snowfall disappears into the sea. What silence!

    —Zen proverb

  33. Firedancer

    Thank you for the Newgrange info, Moon Howler. I once participated in a powerful Solstice ritual led by a person who had visited there. She was very moved by the experience.

  34. Moon-howler

    Firedancer, How very neat. (and lucky for that person) Many apply, few are selected, from what I read.

  35. Chris

    For those of you with kids or are just a kid at heart you can track Santa compliments of NORAD!!


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