When Does Winter Start?

Dec 19, 2023
Bare tree in front of a winter sunset.

On December 21, my wall calendar says: "Winter begins.” I disagree! December 21 is the Winter solstice and marks the longest night of the year, the deepest yin. Which means that each day afterwards, the nights are gradually getting shorter and the days longer; yin is lessening, yang is increasing. So, doesn’t it make more sense to consider the solstice midwinter? Turns out many of the northern cultures traditionally used that term and continue to. Makes sense to me.

Why do I ponder this? It is not simply semantics. Chinese medicine assumes we humans are under the influence of the cycles of the natural world: day and night, the monthly lunar cycle, and the annual turn around the sun that creates the seasons. If we consider December 21st to be midwinter, then right now, we are in the heart of winter, energetically speaking. 

If you are feeling like being home instead of out and about, wanting to go to bed earlier, sleep later, "hole up” - your body is reflecting the season. This deep yin time of year lends itself well to introspection, evaluation of what has passed, and laying plans for what you want to create in the year to come. 

Think about the farmer who has gathered the harvest, and is now reviewing notes about what crops fared well and which didn’t, cleaning equipment, and making plans for what seeds to plant when in the coming year. 

Once we pass midwinter, our creative "sap” will slowly begin to quicken, readying for the start of spring, which by the energetic calendar is early February.

Lean into the yin, knowing we are soon turning the corner to increasing yang.

Enjoy the Winter Solstice,
Kirstin Lindquist  

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