In the northern hemisphere it is the shortest day and longest night, whereas in the southern hemisphere it is the opposite. The Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, the furthest the North Pole gets from the sun, causing less than 12 hours of daylight in the north.
As if all of these numbers weren’t confusing enough, the more observant of you will notice that the earliest sunset has been and gone and the mornings will continue to get darker. This is because the solar day doesn’t match the 24 hour day humans invented when they decided that clocks would be a good idea. Solar days are shortest in September and longest in December, clocking up an average of 30 seconds each day. So I hope that has explained that little phenomenon to your satisfaction.
Moving swiftly on. Nestling between Hanukkah and Christmas is the Pagan festival of Yule, celebrated during this equinox. A large log known as a Yule Log would be lit, taking approximately twelve days to burn, during which time feasting and merrymaking would ensue. The rebirth of the sun would be celebrated as the countdown to spring began.You might also be interested in why we decorate our homes with holly and mistletoe in this post here.