Google Doodle Friday celebrated the first day of winter and the longest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere—an astronomical phenomenon also known as the Winter Solstice or midwinter. The phenomenon occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere.
People around the world have celebrated this astronomical milestone for centuries.
In Ireland, people gather at Newgrange, a massive 5,000 years old gravesite, to witness the sunrise lighting up the ancient tomb.
At the Stonehenge in UK, people come together to capture the moment when the sun aligns with the rocks at sunrise and sunset. In Iran, the occasion is celebrated as Yalda night or Shab-e-Yalda. For Jews, the winter solstice is called ‘Tekufat Tevet’, which marks the start of winter.
Winter Solstice in China is referred to as the ‘Dongzhi festival,’, a celebration of winter’s arrival. The major attraction of the festival are the rice balls called ‘Tang Yuan,’ which translate to ‘family reunion’.
The festive food is said to bring prosperity and unity among families.