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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — solstice

Good evening, Netizens...

December 21, 2012

Word of the Day

  • solstice
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SAHL-stiss\


: the time of year when the sun is farthest north of the equator or farthest south of the equator

People all over the world have observed celebrations linked to the summer and winter solstices since ancient times.

"Experts on Mayan culture say that date [December 21, 2012], the winter solstice, simply marks the end of a cycle, no different than flipping the calendar to a new year after Dec. 31." — From an article by James Figueroa in the Pasadena Star-News (California), November 25, 2012


In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs on June 21 or 22 and the winter solstice on December 21 or 22. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the solstices are exactly the opposite. For several days around the time of the solstices, the sun's appearance on the horizon at sunrise and sunset seems to occur at the same spot, before it starts drifting to the north or south again. "Solstice" gets its shine from "sol," the Latin word for "sun." The ancients added "sol" to "-stit-" ("standing") and came up with "solstitium." Middle English speakers shortened "solstitium" to "solstice" in the 13th century.

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.