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Shortest day of the year: Everything you need to know about the winter solstice

It's the shortest day of the year coming up; here's everything you need to know about the longest night of the calendar

Here's everything you need to know about the shortest day of the year!(Image: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

It feels like only weeks ago London was basking in sunlight, but now it's freezing cold and the shortest day of the year is coming around sooner than you'd think!

The winter solstice marks the moment the sun shines at its most southern point, and has been celebrated by pagans for thousands of years.

In fact, many of the traditions now associated with Christmas had their roots in winter solstice celebrations - including the Christmas tree.

Here's our guide to when it's happening and why we celebrate it... and don't worry, the days will look brighter and sunnier again before you know it!

Want to hide away from the cold weather? Why not try one of these deliciously warming Christmas drinks?

(Image: Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

When is it this year?

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of winter. The solstice itself is the moment the sun is shining farthest to the south, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.

This year, the shortest day of the year lands on Wednesday, December 21.

How do people celebrate it?

The winter solstice is a major pagan festival, with rituals of rebirth having been celebrated for thousands of years.

Every year revellers gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise on the shortest day.

Many of the traditions we now think of as being part of Christmas - including yule logs, mistletoe and Christmas trees - have their roots in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice.

When will the days be longer again?

The good news is, the days will get longer and longer after the shortest day of the year, up until the next summer solsice, which lands on Wednesday June 21, 2017.

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