On Thursday, Dec. 21, the sun will rise at at 7:17 AM EST and set at 4:31 PM EST. If that window of sunlight seems cruelly small, even for December, that's because it's the winter solstice. It's the definitive shortest day of the entire year. So how will the winter solstice 2017 affect your sign? The literal darkest day of 2017 has a lot in store, astrologically.
The winter solstice has held importance for us since humans began marking the passage of time. Centuries before much of the world began adhering to the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced in the mid-1500s, a "year" was divided into quarters, marked by four notable days — two solstices and two equinoxes. The vernal equinox, which falls in March, and the autumnal equinox, in late September, are the two days of the year when night and day are as close to equal as possible. The summer solstice, in June, is subsequently the longest day of the year. The winter solstice is the shortest.
But there's a reason why the winter solstice in particular was, and remains, host to a number of celebrations and festivals. Even today, the winter is rough. It's cold, it's dark, it's slushy. Imagine living through it with no electricity and no access to a grocery store. Ancient civilizations relied on warmth and sunshine for survival. Though it's arguably the toughest day in the annual cycle, the winter solstice also marks the moment when the days officially begin lengthening again. Hope is on the horizon.
The winter solstice continues to play an important role within astrology as well. It's considered a time for reflection, a time for strength and a time to lean into the freedom of uncertainty. Sure, the sun will come back, but it's certainly not back yet.
"Winter Solstice is not about having the light. It is about carrying hope and moving toward a vision that we will work to make a reality," writes Ruth Barrett for astrology site Mystic Mamma. "Nature teaches us that resting, drawing inward for a time, is present in all living things. Rest is necessary for growth that comes later in the season."
This year, the December new moon falls just three days before the winter solstice. On Dec. 21, the sun enters Capricorn, as does Saturn, who is leaving a three-year trip through Sagittarius. A new era is dawning, literally.