'Sun standing still': Why do we celebrate the solstice?

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Say goodbye to shorter days, and ever so slowly start to welcome back more sun as the winter solstice arrives on Thursday.

What is the winter solstice, and why do we have it?

It usually occurs on or around the December 21 of each year. North of the Arctic Circle - at 66.5 degrees north latitude - the sun never rises, and darkness prevails as the Earth rotates on its axis.

While the shortest day can be kind of a bummer, it has a little silver lining: It means that from here, sunlight will stick around longer and longer.

The Google Doodle is available for most countries within the Northern Hemisphere since the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing its summer solstice.

The winter solstice, also known as Yule, Midwinter, marks the beginning of the astronomical winter, but it's not the coldest day of the year.

The sun will be up for just about 9 hours and 24 minutes on Thursday, and in the days immediately before and after the solstice, too. Over the course of the year, Google Doodles remind Googlers of everything from quantum mechanics physicists to Mexican folk dancers.

Stonehenge draws hundreds of people every year for the winter solstice.

Is the winter solstice the coldest day of the year?

Even the Christmas tree might have roots celebrating the solar event.

"It's an ad hoc celebration that brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travelers and party people - 100's of them!"

All this means the United Kingdom experienced a late sunrise at 8.04am this morning and will see an early sunset at 3.53pm this afternoon. "Ancient structures that allow you to track the shifting position of the sun between its extremes are found all over the world".