The winter solstice is the longest night of the year, and the period when the Northern Hemisphere is farthest from the sun.
This unique annual astrological phenomenon was recognized by ancient cultures around the world, who would celebrate this day as a pivotal time of year. Romans, druids, Native Americans and Japanese Buddhists all recognized the winter solstice as a time for harvest, renewal and expectation for the coming sun and light.
Today, different cities mark the occasion with a variety of festivities, some based in ancient traditions and others based in modern merry-making.
Read on to discover what makes the winter solstice such a unique time of year.