Winter Solstice 2017 – Shortest Day

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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Welcome to the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere

(Castle Lachlan, Scotland, Nov 2017)

In the tropics of South Florida where I live, the length of the day is pretty constant. As you move towards the North Pole, the length of the day changes dramatically. This past November, I was in Scotland, which is about the same latitude as Nova Scotia, Canada. I was hiking with friends out to the ruins of Castle Lachlan. At noon, the sun was just above the mountains to the east and south.

“When is the sun going to be overhead?” I asked my Scottish friend. I assumed things are just lazy in Scotland. Everything moves slower in a relaxed pace of life of this small village.

“It’s not,” she said, “it’s about to go down.”

(“A little LOVE from my friends”, hike to Castle Lachlan, Scotland, Nov 2017)

I was flabbergasted. (Great word, you should use it too.) At high noon, the sun was nowhere near overhead! And it was going back down. Growing up near the equator in South Florida, this was just too strange. It was one of those mind-blowing moments in life where my world perspective adjusts itself. I had the feeling that someone had just tilted my world on an axis, and I was about to fall off.

Strangely, that is exactly what’s happening. The axis between the North and South Poles is not vertical to our orbit around the sun. The tilt in the axis changes the length of the days as our seasons change.

And so, today is the shortest day of the year. My Scottish friends might get 7 hours of sunlight today, while Florida get 10+ hours. Here in South Florida, I get sad just when I have one overcast day. The darkness there lasts a whole season.

From that Scottish hike under the low-lying sun, I realized why you would celebrate the Winter Solstice — the shortest day of the year! This day marks the turning point. After today, the days will get longer.

The Winter Solstice is a celebration of the “return of the sun” … “the return of the light.”

May the light return into your life bringing all the blessings of the sun.


(Double Rainbow at Loch Fyne, Scotland. Nov 2017)