All About the Holidays: Summer and Winter Solstice

2 minutes

(male narrator) The day with the shortest period of daylight, around December 22 in the United States, is called the winter solstice. At the winter solstice, ancient people knew the days would start to get longer, and they celebrated the return of light. Today Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated around the solstice too. Why do the days seem to get longer or shorter? An imaginary axis runs through the center of Earth. Earth's spin axis is tilted, and the intensity of sunlight falling where we live changes as Earth orbits the sun. On the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice, we're tilted away from the sun and receive the least direct sunlight. The day with the longest period of sunlight, exactly six months later, is called the summer solstice. That's when the Northern Hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight. If you lived in the Southern Hemisphere it would be opposite. Our summer solstice is their winter solstice. The days that fall exactly in between the two solstices are called the spring equinox and the fall equinox because, at those times, the day is exactly equal to the night. Check a calendar. Are you closer to the winter solstice or the summer solstice?


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As the Earth revolves around the Sun, the daylight hours get longer and shorter depending on its orientation. Learn more about the celebrations surrounding the longest and shortest days of the year. Part of the “All About the Holidays” series.

Media Details

Runtime: 2 minutes

All About the Holidays
Episode
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode
1 minute
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 1
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 2
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 3
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 4
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 5
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 6
1 minute
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 7
1 minute
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 8
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8