Around Australia, Winter solstice bonfires have become increasingly popular as people gather together to celebrate the longest night of the year.
Societies throughout history and across the world host festivals and ceremonies to celebrate the winter solstice. Known as the day of the “sun’s rebirth”, winter solstice celebrations honour the symbolism of fire and light, along with life, death, the rising sun, and the moon.

In this world of continuing disconnection from our greatest healer, nature, it is just as important to be increasingly aware of the natural world and universe around us. Celebrating these markers in time keep up rooted to our place on this earth and it’s cycles, and gives us time to breathe out and prepare for the next cycle to begin.

When is the Winter Solstice

The Winter solstice is taking place on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

As it’s the shortest day of the year we’ll experience roughly 9 hours and 53 minutes of daylight in Sydney, although this varies depending on how far north or south you are. Hobart will have the lowest amount of daylight hours around the country with just 9 hours of light.

You can check out your city’s daylight hours over at Time and Date.

This is roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes less than the longest day of the year which occurs on the summer solstice in December.

There’s not really much to do on the winter solstice except pack some extra layers and prepare to head to and from work in the dark.

What is the winter solstice?

The solstices and equinoxes are used to signal the change in seasons and are all based on the tilt of the Earth as it travels around the sun.

Basically, when the Earth rotates around the sun, it does so while it’s slightly off-centre. That’s why we get different seasons. Here’s how Encyclopaedia Britannica explains it:

The seasons on Earth change because the planet is slightly tilted on its axis as it travels around the Sun. This means different points on Earth receive more or less sunlight at different times of year. If Earth were not tilted, the Sun would always appear to be directly above the Equator, the amount of light a given location receives would be fixed, and there would be no seasons.

So when it comes to the solstices and equinoxes, these mark the occasions the Earth’s poles are at their maximum tilt either towards or away from the sun. The summer and winter solstices also occur at opposite times depending on which hemisphere you’re in.

So while we experience the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, those in the northern hemisphere will enjoy the summer solstice.