Today marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest, and possibly one of the coldest, days of the year.
The Winter Solstice is the point in time when daylight hours have the smallest duration. After today, days will get longer again, get longer again, adding more daylight back into everyone's lives.
Terri Lang, a meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, has some insight into how the Solstice's approach has been playing out.
"We're in the darkest time of the year," commented Lang. "It really allows that arctic air to deepen quite a bit. During the long nights, it's able to get even colder."
With today being the darkest day of the year, folks may notice that oppressive cold in the air. The limited sunlight has allowed cool arctic air to seep into the southwest, adding a bone-chilling wind to the mix of winter conditions.
The Winter Solstice has a fascinating role in world history, marking a time of celebration in many cultures. In Canada, First Nations cultures have celebrated with "Winter Equinox" in many different fashions since the neolithic era.
In European cultures, before the rise of Christianity, many regions celebrated around the time of the Winter Solstice. The Romans celebrated 'Saturnalia', and in ancient Nordic communities, it was celebrated as 'Yule'. The same could be said of Germanics, who also celebrated 'Yule' during the same time period.
In China, they have celebrated the Winter Solstice since the Han Dynasty, in the early 200s B.C. In Korea, they celebrate 'Dongji' on the Solstice. Over in India, 'The festival of Lohri' is celebrated by the Sikh community on the evening of the Winter Solstice.
Here in Canada, some still celebrate the day with mulled wine and other delicacies, marking the occasion. In other provinces and territories, such as the Yukon, they celebrate the longest night of the year with stargazing, winter running, and last-minute gift shopping before Christmas.
Tonight is forecasted to still be severely cold, but if anyone hosts their own celebrations, feel free to submit pictures and information to Swift Current Online, or our Facebook page, to share how you spent the shortest day and longest night of the year.