NEWS

First Day Of Winter: Solstice Celebrated By Pagans And Druids At Stonehenge

Daylight on Wednesday will last just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds.

21/12/2016 09:30 | Updated 21 December 2016

Stonehenge saw an influx of Pagans and Druids on Wednesday as they gathered to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.

Last year, almost 5,000 people dressed in medieval clothing were at the heritage site to celebrate the solstice - the annual event which marks the point at which the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun.

Ancient civilisations in the UK and around the world mark the occasion as an important moment and an opportunity to bring old traditions back into modern life.

Matt Cardy via Getty Images
Celebrations marking the first day of winter are underway at Stonehenge 

In previous years, people have enjoyed picnics, while others have performed religious ceremonies to mark the date.

The sun rose over Stonehenge at 8.13am on Wednesday, and a spokesman for English Heritage - which looks after the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire - said between 3,000 and 5,000 people were expected to travel to the site.

The spokesman said: “We expect people to start arriving between 7am and 7.45am, as they will want to be at the site before sunrise. 

Matt Cardy via Getty Images
Druids, pagans and other revellers gather to watch the sunrise 

“It is fascinating to witness people performing religious ceremonies and enjoying the solstice at the site.”

Although the entire day is typically considered to be the solstice, the precise moment it occurs is when the sun is directly over the line marking the latitude stretching across the southern hemisphere.

This year, this will reportedly happen at 10.44am GMT, according to science website earthsky.org.

Matt Cardy via Getty Images
The event is traditionally attended by thousands of people 

Daylight on Wednesday will last just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds - almost nine hours less than the year’s longest day in the summer.

During the winter solstice - which is also commemorated today with the Google Doodle - the sun is closer to the horizon than any other time of the year.

Google
  • Ben Birchall/PA Wire
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the winter solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
  • Ben Birchall/PA Wire
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the winter solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
  • Matt Cardy via Getty Images
    WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Druids, pagans and revellers gather in the centre of Stonehenge as they take part in a winter solstice ceremony at the ancient neolithic monument of Stonehenge near Amesbury on December 21, 2016 in Wiltshire, England. Despite a forecast for cloud and rain, a large crowd gathered at the famous historic stone circle, a UNESCO listed ancient monument, to celebrate the sunrise closest to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. The event is claimed to be more important in the pagan calendar than the summer solstice, because it marks the 're-birth' of the Sun for the New Year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
  • Matt Cardy via Getty Images
    WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Druids, pagans and revellers gather in the centre of Stonehenge as they take part in a winter solstice ceremony at the ancient neolithic monument of Stonehenge near Amesbury on December 21, 2016 in Wiltshire, England. Despite a forecast for cloud and rain, a large crowd gathered at the famous historic stone circle, a UNESCO listed ancient monument, to celebrate the sunrise closest to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. The event is claimed to be more important in the pagan calendar than the summer solstice, because it marks the 're-birth' of the Sun for the New Year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
  • Matt Cardy via Getty Images
    WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Druids, pagans and revellers gather in the centre of Stonehenge as they take part in a winter solstice ceremony at the ancient neolithic monument of Stonehenge near Amesbury on December 21, 2016 in Wiltshire, England. Despite a forecast for cloud and rain, a large crowd gathered at the famous historic stone circle, a UNESCO listed ancient monument, to celebrate the sunrise closest to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. The event is claimed to be more important in the pagan calendar than the summer solstice, because it marks the 're-birth' of the Sun for the New Year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
  • Ben Birchall/PA Wire
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the winter solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
  • Ben Birchall/PA Wire
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the winter solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
  • Ben Birchall/PA Archive
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the Winter Solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
  • Ben Birchall/PA Wire
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the winter solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
  • Grant Pollard/AP
    People gather at the historic site of Stonehenge, southwest England to celebrate the Winter solstice Monday Dec. 22, 2014. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)
  • Ben Birchall/PA Archive
    People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire on the Winter Solstice to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS