Here's How The Winter Solstice Will Affect Your Sign This Year

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.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Oh, Aries. Hardworking, first to everything Aries. You know how the solstice is supposed to be a time of reflection, of finding internal strength? I have a feeling you're going to be "finding your inner strength" while grinding away at your desk, prepping for when the days finally get longer and you've got more daylight, more time, to kick ass. But just, you know... it's the holidays. Be sure to give yourself some time off.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

When the sun and Saturn meet on the solstice, they'll be all up in Capricorn. For Taurus babes, that means the solstice will be a slightly somber, reflective affair. Don't shy away from having deep conversations with friends - after all, it's been a trying three years for both your wallet and your conceptions of intimacy. You're ready for this. Just maybe also bring along a cozy blanket and a nice, warm bevvie. We know how you love your creature comforts.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Earlier this month, a full moon in Gemini kickstarted a month of reevaluation in terms of your relationships. Who are your true friends, the best partners, the kindest people? You deserve to have them in your inner circle. The solstice falls on the final day that Sagittarius is in your house of committed relationships. SHhhhhh, be quiet, give yourself some alone time and really consider who deserves your time and energy.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Sure, the solstice is a time to slow down, to take a breath, to hibernate, but not this year, not for Cancers. The shortest day of the year only means fewer hours of daylight to work through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Cancers, you are loyal, especially to those you care about, but don't shoulder the responsibilities of others. If they've got unfinished business going into the new year, well, that's their problem. Give yourself a night or two off.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

Having wrought havoc on your creative endeavors and love life for literally years, Saturn is now off to Capricorn, leaving in its wake a new you, one who has worked through the bullshit and come out knowing more about yourself and your relationships. This solstice really is a cosmic breath of fresh air for you. Set your intentions. You know what you want.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)

Now listen up, Virgos. With both the sun and Saturn entering your house of fun and creativity and love and passion around the solstice, you're about to get a wake up call about your concept of The Ideal Relationship. That's okay. In fact, it's probably a good thing. As the days begin to lengthen, let your sense of what you're looking for begin to mature and settle in, too.

Libra (Sep. 23-Oct. 22)

Between the new moon on Dec. 18 and the sun entering Capricorn on the winter solstice, Libras will be primed to fully embody their symbol of a scale. With one eye on the past and one eye on the future, the solstice is the perfect time to adopt the traditions of your ancestors. It's okay to be serious. It's okay to investigate and hurt for the ways these practices were lost in the first place. Some may think it's not "typical Libra" behavior, but only those who take you at surface level.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

Look, it's been three years since Saturn entered Sagittarius and started really putting pressure on your house of work, self-esteem and money. Saturn? He's done. He's gone - well, not gone, but his influence is off your wallet and out of your office. Lean into this newfound sense of creative energy and freedom. You got a big idea? Go with it! Juggling, like, 50 holiday party invites? Go to 'em!

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Happy birth season, Sagittarians! What a huge month for you. As you turn another year older, mercury goes retrograde and Saturn ends a three-year trip through your sign. Saturn, ughhhhh, Saturn, the planet of rules, restrictions, fear, has been ALL up in your life for years. He's gone. He's off to Capricorn. A huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders this solstice, and though you may already be tired, grab this chance to get! Shit! Done!

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

On the day of the solstice, the sun will enter Capricorn. Big! Day! Ironically, the darkest day of the year, will be bringing light into your life. Mercury retrograde is ending, your solar return is upon us, and you'll be feeling like your old, focused, hard-headed self. Get crackin'. December may have been rough but you've got a whole year to wake up and prepare for.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Aquarians, you guys are the good-doers, the humanitarians, always working towards innovations that will help others. But as Saturn moves into your house of privacy on the solstice, you'd be wise to take a step back and focus on your own mental health for a bit. It's not always easy helping others. It's draining, but that doesn't mean you're doing a bad job. It means you care. But you gotta care about your own self, too, my dudes.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

Listen, Pisces get a reputation for being the quintessential water sign, feeling the feels, floating through life. But you guys can be business bitches, too, and as the solstice brings about new opportunities in your professional life, you should jump on 'em!