The winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it takes place between December 20 and 23, depending on the year. (The reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere, where the shortest day of the year occurs in June.) Cultures around the world have long held feasts and celebrated holidays around the winter solstice. Fire and light are traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year.