When is the shortest day of the year: What is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year UK 2022

As temperatures drop and days darken the shortest day of the year has fallen, but when was the shortest day of the year in 2022? Here’s what you should know.

After the clocks go back the Autumn season feels like a lifetime ago as the darker and frostier November nights whizz by us. However, there is an exact date that marks when winter begins and this specific date changes every year according to how much light shines on the Earth.

What's more, there are also two possible dates for when winter starts. Here’s when winter starts in the UK in 2022 and when the shortest day of the year fell.

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When does Winter start in 2022?

Wondering when winter starts in 2022? It may surprise you to know there are actually two dates.

According to the Met Office, there are two ways to determine when winter starts, one based on the meteorological calendar and another on the astronomical calendar. The meteorological calendar is more commonly used as it divides the four seasons evenly into three-month periods.

It shows the first day of winter in the UK was Thursday, December 1 2022.

However, the astronomical calendar - that the National Centers for Environmental Information reports is based on the natural rotation of the Earth around the sun - states that winter starts on Wednesday, December 21 and ends March 20, 2023.

When is the shortest day of the year?

People take part in the winter solstice celebrations during sunrise at the Stonehenge prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

With the astronomical calendar we can determine that the shortest day of the year (i.e., the Winter Solstice) fell on Wednesday, December 21.

What is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year but also the longest night because the Earth has turned on its axis such that the north pole tilts away from the sun. This means the Northern Hemisphere is further away from the sun and facing it less, resulting in less daylight and therefore longer nights.

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History describes a practice in which Britons would visit Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice and summer solstice and this tradition dates back thousands of years. Experts believe this as it is understood that Stonehenge was built specifically in alignment with the sun and may have been used to represent the sun’s movement.

How long does winter last?

Whether you use the meteorological or astronomical calendar, winter lasts around three months. According to the meteorological calendar the last day of winter will be February 28, 2023, followed by Spring starting the next day on March 1.

The astronomical calendar, however, starts later and so ends later on March 20 in an event known in the Northern Hemisphere as the ‘Spring equinox’.

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