In 2012, the winter solstice falls on December 21 — 15 hours 12 minutes Moscow time. Length of daylight at the latitude of Moscow is 6 hours 56 minutes. During the winter solstice the sun at the latitude of 66.5 degrees above the horizon for at all — only the twilight in these latitudes suggests that it is just over the horizon.
At the north pole of the Earth is not visible, not only the sun, but also of twilight, and the location of the light can be known only by the constellations. December 21 the sun crosses the meridian of 18-hour and starts to climb up the ecliptic, the path from the vernal equinox, when it crosses the celestial equator. Winter Solstice has been seen since ancient times.
Thus, in Russian folklore this day devoted proverb: the sun — for the summer, winter — the cold. Now a day will be added gradually, and the night — to shrink. On the winter solstice was judged on the future harvest. In the old days of the winter solstice noticed: the frost on the trees — the rich harvest of grain. In the XVI century in Russia, the winter solstice was associated interesting ritual.
For the king to bow came zvonarny mayor of Moscow's Cathedral, which was responsible for the striking of the clock. He reported that from now the sun had turned to summer, the day is added, and the night is reduced. For this good news the king bestowed elder money. The ancient Slavs at the winter solstice pagan new year, he was associated with the deity of carols.
The main attribute of the festivities was a fire, representing the light of the sun and calling, which, after the longest night of the year was to climb higher and higher. New Year ritual cake — a loaf — in form also resembles the sun. In Europe these days started a 12-day cycle of the pagan celebrations of the winter solstice, which marked the beginning of a new life and renewal of nature.
On the day of the winter solstice in Scotland, it was the custom to run sun wheel — "Solstice." Barrel burning daubed with tar and allowed down the street. Wheel — a symbol of the sun, the spokes of the wheels looked like beams, rotating spokes in the wheel movement makes a living and like a star. In ancient China, believed that this time rises male power of nature and a new cycle begins. Winter solstice was considered a lucky day. On this day — from the emperor to the common man — is on vacation. The army was made to wait orders, closed the border fortresses and retail shops, people visited each other's homes, gave each other presents.
The Chinese brought sacrifices to God of Heaven and ancestors, as well as eating porridge made from glutinous rice and beans to help protect you from evil spirits and diseases. So far, the winter solstice is one of the traditional Chinese holidays. In India, the day of the winter solstice — Sankranti — celebrated in the Hindu and Sikh communities, where the night before the celebration of lighting a bonfire, fire symbolizes the sun's heat, warm the earth after the beginning of winter colds.