6 Winter Solstice Celebrations From Around the World

Dong Zhi

Dong Zhi, the “arrival of winter,” is a major Chinese holiday. Family gathers to commemorate the year. The traditional Chinese celestial calendar places the festival between December 21 and 23. 

St. Lucia’s Day

Scandinavians commemorate St. Lucia's Day with lights around the winter solstice. It today honors St. Lucia, a Christian martyr, although it has been mixed with Norse solstice traditions like lighting fires to ward off ghosts during the longest night. 

Midwinter in Antarctica

Researchers residing in Antarctica during the severely cold season celebrate the solstice. Northern Hemisphere residents enjoy the maximum daylight, while Southern Hemisphere residents celebrate Midwinter.


Christmas may be most closely related to Saturnalia, an old Roman festival. Around the winter solstice, this ceremony marked the end of planting season. 

Inti Raymi

The solstice is celebrated in June, not December. Peru celebrates the winter solstice with an Incan Sun deity festival. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, the Inca celebrated with feasts and animal or child sacrifices. 


Ancient Persians celebrated the winter solstice with Yalda, or Shab-e Yalda. The Persian month of Azar ends. Light triumphs over darkness on Yalda, Mithra's birthday. 

See Also

7 Christmas Traditions To Start This Year