Relationships

Winter Solstice

How are you doing? Today is the shortest (read: darkest) day of the year in North America. In New York, the sun will set at 4:31 p.m.

But! The good news is, the days will now get brighter every day for the rest of the winter. So, if you can make it through today, you’re all set. :)

Just a little PSA. Also, this made me laugh.

P.S. The best music for exercising, and stories about strangers. Plus, how to stay cheerful this winter.

(Photo by Creek Zonderland/Stocksy.)

  1. Frederikke says...

    In Denmark the sun went down at 15.39 and sunrise at 8.37 on the shortest day, Dec 21.

    I am SOO looking forward to brighter mornings and long summer nights.

  2. jane says...

    Oh gosh, I may be the only one but have been enjoying the looong dark quiet mornings. Today it was light at 7am and it’s too soon! I feel like time is flying, a mixed blessing.

  3. Cindy says...

    I for one love the late fall and winter and I don’t mind it getting dark early. It’s my favorite time of year, so cozy. I live in Texas and the summer’s are horrendously hot and the sun doesn’t seem to set until after 9. I so look forward to the cooler days when the sun sets early.

  4. Amy says...

    The comments here are all beautiful. Thank you for them.

  5. Jen says...

    Can you guys update your Shop page more regularly? I’d especially love to browse on days like today when it’s dark and cozy and I’m looking for a shopping treat

  6. Anon says...

    I love the winter solstice. There is something so beautiful about a wintery scene. The snow, the moonlight. The longest night of the year, knowing it is a turning point for the earth and the sun. And knowing each day gets longer after tonight. There is something downright magical about it and I just love it.

  7. Emma says...

    This post just made me cry such tears of sadness and joy. After a month-long roller coaster of medical mysteries and false diagnoses, and a final diagnosis of “ultra rare incurable fungal infection of the spine,” my husband and I had to say goodbye to our silly, special, sweet, and incredibly wonderful pup today. She was only four and we only had two years with her. I’m so grateful to have had even that much time. Today was definitely the darkest day of my year, and I’m feeling so relieved that brighter days are coming. <3

    • Sara says...

      ❤️

    • Samantha says...

      I’m so sorry, Emma! Losing a pup is the worst. Sending you hugs from San Diego!

    • can i be anonymous today? says...

      to emma …

      condolences to you and your husband on the loss of your sweet pup. so hard, but you did right by her. not easy sometimes, but a sign of love always. and love goes on forever.

      may happy memories and God’s promise of eternal life bring you comfort. better days are indeed ahead!

      sending a socially-distanced hug, also prayers for you all.

      can i be anonymous today?

  8. A says...

    I spent today giving COVID vaccinations to my coworkers (!!!) from a chemo infusion room that’s been temporarily turned into a COVID clinic. I’ve never been so happy to put a needle in somebody. Today was a reminder that we CAN move forward even though we still have a long, cold winter ahead of us. Please, wear your masks so you and others can make it through this season!

    • Sarah says...

      Hip hip hooray! 👏🏻

  9. Vanessa says...

    The Chinese (and therefore all the Chinese diaspora, even though we live in the tropics) mark each season’s solstice with a family reunion. Winter solstice is time to eat sticky rice balls in ginger syrup (unless you come from another tradition where it’s savoury soup or sweet peanut paste). Each ball probably means a member of the family or how many years you are or how many wishes you get, no idea! But it’s sweet to see my colleagues rushing back from work to spend time with family because no one messes with ‘winter’ solstice day.

  10. Beckxoxo says...

    On the other side of the world its the summer solstice. Here in Aus it’s our longest day of the year. We’re back into isolation after months of relative normality. Being back in lockdown with my kids and husband certainly did feel like the longest day of the year….

    • Rusty says...

      Feeling for you mob in NSW!
      You can get through this! And when you do….Perth and WA is waiting for you. xx

  11. Rainbow says...

    Reading this in Scotland, where the sun set at 3:27 today, and won’t rise until 8:45 tomorrow :(

    I’m dreaming of it being light at 5!

    • Kate says...

      Living in Scotland for a year confirmed that I have seasonal affective disorder – the difference is just so dramatic! Even then, Scotland holds my heart 💜

  12. kaz says...

    i am a winter solstice baby! haha it used to make me so sad that this was the shortest day of the year, until i realized short days meant looooong slumber party nights. those days are well behind me, but it’s fun to reminisce!

    • nadine says...

      Happy birthday Kaz!! Wish you lots of fun memories :)

    • laura says...

      my daughter is a winter solstice baby, too! she loves it and feels very special :)

  13. J. says...

    I love that this is tagged under ‘relationships’– I am a summer sunshine person through & through (my teammates joke that I need to photosynthesize), and I do consider the sun to be one of my relationships, particularly in how much I feel like I learn from watching it show up so differently but so steadily every day.

    It makes perfect sense that it’s tagged as relationships, though, as this post was exactly what I needed today while feeling pretty blue and lonely, as it prompted me to text a handful of friends with this encouragement — if we can get through today, we’re all set. Thank you so much for the reminder <3.

  14. Megan Powell says...

    This is the one thing I like about the shortest day of the year….. each day after this gets longer than before. I have a 7-month-old baby (born in the middle of the pandemic), and this winter feels like it’s going to go on forever. But hopefully, little things like this (more and more light each day) will keep us going.

  15. Jessica says...

    For over a decade, my closest lady friends and I have gathered every winter and summer solstice – to welcome back the light and to thank it for coming – and it is the most meaningful tradition of my year. We give each other “gifts” – writing things we are grateful for, like “all the hugs and kisses you need to feel loved” or “the gift of developing patience for life’s delays,” on slips of paper that we pass on. We share what we hope to let go with the passing year.
    It’s so easy to only have the lightest and most passing of “nice to see you!” interactions, especially when you have kids. This tradition of connecting deeply and intentionally – even masked, in the backyard, in the driving rain, is the greatest gift I get every year.

    • J. says...

      Wow – I love this so much. Thank you for sharing; it really moved me! xx

    • Anna says...

      Love this. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Kelly says...

    My husband and I started a winter solstice tradition this year. We built a fire in our backyard and took some time to reflect on 2020’s losses, disappointments, and painful experiences, both in our lives and in the lives of those we love. We invited friends to write out their laments and send them to us. We then put each one on a scrap of paper, prayed and held space for each one, and watched it burn in the fire. It felt like the right thing to do on the longest night of such a tough year.

    • Hanna says...

      This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Carolyn says...

    It’s also my dad’s birthday! His dad, my pop, always used to good-naturedly poke fun at my dad for being born on the darkest day of the year. So, even though I’m not a big fan of winter or darkness, this day always makes me happy because I get to celebrate my dad and remember my pop :)

  18. Hilary says...

    My bike riding maniac of a husband decided to go on a “Solstice Century” ride yesterday, where he and his buddies navigated ice and snow here in wintery Colorado. They got so re-routed by road conditions that they only managed to do 80 miles (?!), but they were very pleased with themselves and have declared that it will be an annual tradition.

    Myself, I prefer a stiff eggnog 😂.

  19. Cindy Fried says...

    15h54 sunset today in London UK. We are queueing for food at supermarkets. There’s a shortage of lettuces for Christmas, I read online (who eats lettuce at Christmas, I ask you?). All a bit grim. But the Jupiter Saturn conjunction is big news – can’t see it, thick grey cloud of course – but it sounds hopeful. Happy Holidays and healthy New Year to you all!

    • Anne Lester says...

      I will be thinking of you when we are out viewing the Christmas Star. I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy, healthy 2021!

  20. Kat says...

    For various reasons, I’ve been feeling a little low the past few days. This is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you! I will take a deep breath and release it and think of brighter days.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so glad, Kat. These aren’t easy times, but they will end. xoxo

    • Kylee says...

      Why do dad’s do that?! Haaaahaa!
      My dad was always at least 10ft ahead of us and now my husband does it too!

  21. Gill F. says...

    My mom’s birthday is the day after the winter solstice and I love that in those very dark days of winter we always get to gather and celebrate the joys of life and family and togetherness. Has always made me love this time of year, even when it’s dark and cold and the light seems so far off.

  22. Laura S says...

    I always breath a sigh of relief on this day. It’s as if it’s all downhill from here.

  23. I’m sure I’ll change my tune in February when winter seems to be never-ending, but what I love about photography is how it has trained my eyes to see how light changes through the seasons. Winter light is so soft and illuminating even around 2 or 3pm, as opposed to how bright and harsh light can be on a summer day. We may not have the heat of the summer sun right now to energize us but we do have the cozy, gentle light of winter all around us. It’s like a warm blanket❤️

    • Lauren says...

      One of the reasons I love photography – helping see the world through different eyes. Love summer but have grown to appreciate the winter light.

  24. Megan Lec says...

    My husband told me years ago that one of his favorite things about me when we first started dating was that I’m a fast walker. As a kid his Colombian mother and grandmother would be trailing yards behind him, to this day he doesn’t think his abuelita is able to walk and talk simultaneously. It’s funny how little things we don’t even notice about ourselves can be so endearing to others.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha that’s so cute :)

    • Betsy says...

      Dumb me went and watched Midsommar alone in the dark – summer solstice film on the winter solstice. Reader, it was not a good idea. The longest night ever became the LONGEST NIGHT EVER when I realized my bladder was full around 1am and I was too scared to get up and go pee.

  25. Jane I. says...

    This year to beat the winter blues I went FULL hygge. I’m talking cozy slippers, yule log video on YouTube EVERY NIGHT, Sunday baths, fuzzy blankets, fuzzy socks, fuzzy robes, baked goods, hot drinks and, lawddd, I’m up to my neck in candles. I’m SO done hibernating. Bring on the sun!!

    • This is my life right now! So cozy and I’m grateful for cuddles and chai. But we’re so ready for longer days and warm afternoons at the dog park 🐾

  26. Savannah says...

    Breaking out the candles for candlelight dinner tonight, thank you for the reminder! I’m in my thirties and I still don’t “prefer” (aka am scared of) the dark! Now with small children I’m trying to reframe darkness- it is restful, it is a home to nocturnal animals, it can be cozy and time to cuddle and whisper stories, the moon is awesome. And if all that doesn’t work just the reminder that the light always returns! Peace and rest to all of you today!

    • Em says...

      I love “don’t prefer” instead of “being scared of”! Definitely going to use this reframe :)

  27. Sharon in Scotland says...

    I love living this far north. It. gets darker earlier, but gets lighter quicker!

  28. Charlotte says...

    I’m likely a contender for speed walker champion of the world. My natural pace is zippy, but if I’m walking with a purpose my boyfriend actually has to jog to keep up! It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was walking through a shopping mall with my grandmother that I realized I come by it naturally– we were passing people left and right as she exclaimed how s…l…o…w… everyone moves. I should also mention she was 95 years old at the time. I read something a few years ago about a correlation between heart health and natural walking speed. As my grandmother races her way towards 100 I think there’s probably some truth to that.

    I try and force myself to slow down when I’m walking in a group because I don’t want to appear rude, but as most fast walkers can probably attest, it’s hard!

    • Em says...

      I love this Charlotte! The image of you and your grandmother zipping through the mall makes me smile :) I too am an unapologetic speedy walker! It drives my mum mad, and I know some people think it rude, but I have people to meet and places to see! Or, during COVID, neither of the two but I’m walking quickly nonetheless ;)

    • K says...

      YES! I’ve often wondered why it’s so hard to walk slowly. It seems like it should be easier than walking quickly, but it’s definitely not!

    • LEE ANN says...

      It is hard to walk slow.
      My husband and I are also fast walkers. A few years ago on vacation we were on a sidewalk of a busy street in Lyon behind the slooowest walkers … stopping to window shop and walking side by side across the whole sidewalk. Finally, we saw our chance, nipped by them single file and darted in front. My husband looked at me and quipped: Pedestrian rage. We still laugh at that one.

    • CS says...

      Oh kindred spirits! It is good to hear from other fast walkers! Most people I know are slow walkers compared to me. The only time I get to enjoy my natural pace is usually when I am walking alone!

  29. Alice says...

    It got dark at 15:53 in London, where I live, today. We’ve also just gone into the strictest covid measures in the country. This means we are not allowed to leave London *at all*, which means we can’t travel to spend Christmas with family- and the rest of the country can only see two other households on Christmas Day itself. We are completely heartbroken and dazed.

    My boyfriend and I are just hanging on to the fact that we have each other, we have a roof over our heads and gifts for each other, we were able to get supplies for a lovely Christmas dinner at local independent shops yesterday, and we- and most importantly our loved ones- are safe and well. And the fact it will be getting physically lighter from today is so helpful to remember too. The dark will end, and the sun will shine again.

    • Kari says...

      Alice, sending my best this quiet, weird Christmas. In my part of Canada, we’re also not permitted to see anyone outside of our household this Christmas. It’s going to feel very strange and probably quite sad, but we’re trying our best to make the most of it at home, just my husband and I. Hope you’re able to find a bit of joy in the quietness. xx

    • voice of reason says...

      Well no one on the globe is “traveling to spend Christmas with family”, in order to prevent the transmission of the virus; is this why England is in lock-down now? Have people there been imagining they are immune “with family”? Like, stay home already!

  30. Naseem says...

    In Iran, the winter solstice is celebrated with friends and family, people stay up all night eating symbolic foods and anticipating the longer days ahead! It’s called Yalda :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That sounds so wonderful, Naseem!

    • Anie says...

      Shab-e yalda mobarak! 🌙

  31. katie says...

    I’m the “dad” who walks 10 feet ahead of everyone, except I’m not a man nor do I have children.

    I do remember running to catch up with my dad while we walked to church in Sunday mornings. He has long legs, as do I. Fast is our default. I do joke that I walk faster than most people jog. Thanks dad.

  32. Charlotte K says...

    Filling up the house with lights and candles. I love (no ad here, just love ’em) Thymes Fir candles and they will all be lit tonight so I can pretend I have a tree. I might even fire up the Youtube fireplace, but I’ll probably save that for Christmas Day when I’m Zooming with my family.

  33. celeste says...

    My husband also walks 10 feet ahead of me! He’s working on it. I have always been affected by daylight but I got my run in today and it’s 32 and sunny, so I really can’t ask for more!

  34. Anne Lester says...

    I live in the midwest and we are eagerly awaiting the “Christmas Star” about 6PM this evening. It has been 400 years since Jupiter and Saturn have been this visual in the sky. Hope all is able to view!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so cool!

  35. Andrea says...

    In NYC, it’s actually not the earliest the sun has set here. Since 12/13, we’ve been gaining a minute every day or so. It is the shortest day of the year defined as time between sunrise and sunset, but if you just look at sunset, we are gaining sun each day. Yeah!

    I have been riding a bike and have watched the sunrise and sunset times very closely this year.