The exact date of the Winter Solstice can change every year. In 2011 the Winter Solstice took place on 22nd December, while this year it falls on 21st December. It will also take place on this date next year and in 2014.
The Winter Solstice marks the start of the winter season and is the year’s shortest day. On the day of the Winter Solstice it can seem as though the darkness of night lasts all night and all day long, while the sun never actually rises at the North Pole on this day.
The Winter Solstice is not actually the coldest day of the winter season, due to the fact that the northern hemisphere will continue after this day to lose much more heat than it actually gains. This is a scenario that will continue to be the case until well into the late winter season when the longer hours of daytime at that point start to have a net warming trend. As of now though, the best way to celebrate the Winter Solstice is to throw another log on the fire and heat up a nice cup of hot chocolate! Winter is going to be around for a while yet.
Of course, while the northern hemisphere is experiencing the shortest day of the year, the southern hemisphere is enjoying the very first day of the summer season and basking in sunshine!