Hot cocoa, snowmen and Santa come to mind when you think of winter. But winter is more than just fun in the snow. There are all kinds of cool facts about winter weather, Winter Solstice and winter sports. Bundle up and sink in for all the snowy winter facts.
What Is Winter Solstice?
Everyone knows that winter is when it gets colder, and the nights get longer. But do you know what winter really is? Learn a few facts about Winter Solstice.
- Winter is one of four seasons, but not everyone has the same winter. Winter in Florida is a lot warmer than winter in the arctic.
- Winter comes after fall and before spring. It is the opposite of summer.
- Winter is the coldest time of the year and the days are shorter.
- The days are shorter in winter because Winter Solstice is when the sun is the farthest from the equator.
- The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, which in North America ranges from 11 to 0 hours of daylight.
- Winter happens at opposite times in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
- For those in North America and the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice happens around December 21.
- Those in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere have Winter Solstice around June 21.
- The end of the Winter Solstice happens around March 21for the Northern Hemisphere and September 21 for the Southern Hemisphere. Each season lasts for around 3 months.
- Since the sun is pretty much at a standstill in winter, it makes sense that solstice means for the sun to not move in Latin.
- Because the time it takes for the Earth to rotate around the sun varies, the day that the Winter Solstice happens varies too.
Winter Plant Facts
It seems like everything in the winter dies. But that just isn't true. Plants have developed adaptations that help them to survive those cold winter months.
- Deciduous plants, like oak trees, lose their leaves in the winter, which is called abscission.
- Evergreen plants, like pine trees, keep their leaves in the winter because they have a waxy coat that helps to keep the water in.
- While flowers might seem like they die in the winter, perennials stay under the soil waiting for warmer weather.
- Much like squirrels, plants hibernate through the winter. This is called dormancy.
- Pansies come in a range of colors and can bloom in the winter.
- Holly bushes create little berries that can decorate your yard in the snow.
- Winter honeysuckle is a white flower with a lemony smell that can bloom in December.
Where Have All the Animals Gone?
It seems like all the animals leave during the winter. Not only to the birds fly south, but many animals sleep through the winter. Find out about the animals that love the snow.
- Bears aren't true hibernators during the winter. They slow down and go into a deep sleep but don't actually sleep all winter long. This means they can wake up if there is danger.
- True hibernation is when an animal's breath slows and their body temperature decreases. Their metabolism also slows down so they can live off the fat they stored for winter.
- Chipmunks and skunks hibernate during the winter.
- Penguins are winter birds that can't fly. Instead, they are good swimmers.
- The arctic fox has a white coat that works as camouflage and has adapted to live in temperatures as low as -58.
- Snowy owls are winter animals that can have 10 or more chicks that are found in North America.
- Thick white coats help arctic hares survive the North American Tundra.
- Frogs and toads burrow into the ground to hibernate during the winter.
- Deer grow a thicker coat and eat twigs and available grass during the winter.
- Birds fly south for the winter, but they actually start migrating in the fall.
- The largest land carnivores, polar bears are animals that need snow, cold and ice to survive. They live in the arctic where it is always cold.
- A narwhal is a winter animal that lives in the cold areas of Canada and Greenland. They have a tusk like a unicorn.
- Butterflies migrate for winter.
Snowy, Cold Days
With winter comes a change in weather. It gets really cold. Warm up the hot cocoa and explore winter weather facts.
- Every snowflake is different, like fingerprints.
- When heavy snow falls in a short amount of time, it's a snow storm.
- Snowstorms typically come with a winter warning.
- Snow forms when water in the clouds freezes.
- Snow can be light or heavy depending on how frozen the water is in the snow.
- Wet snow is typically heavy but great for making snowmen.
- Light fluffy snow is called powder.
- When you add wind to a snowstorm, you get a blizzard. If you walk outside during a blizzard, you typically can't see much.
- You need sunglasses on a sunny, snowy day because the snow reflects light.
- In addition to snow, you might see freezing rain and hail during the winter.
- You have to drive slower on snowy roads because they are slippery. Snow falling can also make it harder to see when driving.
- Depending on where you live winter temperatures can vary. For some areas, winter temperatures can be in the 70s, but areas like the arctic see very cold temperatures below 0.
- Wind and cold temperatures can create a wind chill. Low wind chills can be dangerous.
- Winter storms happen when colder air and warmer air meet.
- Winter storms can shut down whole cities, towns and states.
Fun In the Snow Facts
There are several sports and recreational activities that require snow. Therefore, you can't go sledding in the summer. Explore some facts about winter sports and activities.
- In the winter, skiing is a popular sport. Many people will go to snow hills and mountains to ski.
- Snowboarding is like surfing on snow and was invented in the 1960s.
- Snowmen were built in the middle ages. One was even commissioned by famous sculpture Michelangelo, not the ninja turtle.
- A popular winter game, snowball fights happen when people ball snow up and throw it at one another.
- Sleds come in all shapes and sizes including toboggans, bobsleds, luges, plastic discs, etc. Rubber tires are even used as sleds.
- Snow angels are made by laying down in the snow and flapping your arms and legs.
- Many people make paper snowflakes to decorate their houses and schools by cutting shapes out of folded paper.
- Ice skating is the oldest winter game in the Olympics.
- Winter activities can include a dog sled race, where trained dogs pull a sled with one rider for several miles.
- Snowmobiling is a favorite winter pastime.
- Winter enthusiasts will fish in the winter by cutting a hole in the ice. There are also competitions for the biggest fish.
Bring on the Holidays
One of the best things about winter is the holidays. Not only is it the time for the big man in the red suit, but citizens also appreciate love and presidents during this season.
Not only is Christmas a time for presents and family for many, but it's an important religious holiday. Learn all the fun Christmas facts.
- On December 25, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.
- Christmas trees started in Germany.
- Santa's sleigh has nine reindeer including Rudolph.
- St. Nicholas, AKA Santa Claus, was born around 280 AD and liked to give kids presents.
- People go around the neighborhood and sing to their neighbors, which is called Christmas caroling.
- Santa started wearing a red suit after appearing in a Coca Cola ad.
- Musicians write music specifically for the Christmas season.
- Christmas is celebrated all over the world.
- You can follow Santa and his reindeer on NORAD on Christmas Eve.
- People send cards to each other on Christmas.
- Some people hang up mistletoe as a decoration, and if you stand under it, you have to kiss.
- If you are naughty, Santa might bring you a lump of coal.
- Indiana has a town named after Santa Claus.
New Year's Eve and Day Facts
Right after opening your Christmas presents and filling up on turkey or ham, you're a hop skip and a jump away from a New Year. Not only does the ball drop, but there are other interesting facts about New Year's Day.
- On New Year's Eve, there is a big party in Time Square, where a ball drops at midnight.
- In London, they have a firework display near Big Ben, the clock.
- Many people create a new year's resolution to break a bad habit or exercise more.
- The first baby of the new year is celebrated.
- Many people bring in the new year with parties that include noisemakers, hats and bubbly drinks.
- New Year's Eve is celebrated on December 31 and New Year's Day is January 1.
Some families celebrate the holidays with Hanukkah. Explore the different facts about this interesting holiday with eight crazy nights.
- Hanukkah has a famous donut called a sufganiyot.
- Hanukkah can be spelled Chanukah or Hanukah.
- This Jewish religious holiday centers on the lighting of the menorah which is a lamp or candle with seven or nine branches.
- Hanukkah is an eight day celebration that is known as the festival of lights.
- Many children get gifts during Hanukkah.
- There is a game played during Hanukkah called the dreidel game. It is a game with a top with four sides.
- The days that Hanukkah falls on varies every year.
Valentine's Day Facts
When is the best time to tell someone that you love them? Every day, of course. But there is a special holiday dedicated to love.
- A famous symbol of Valentine's Day is Cupid. A cherub with a bow and arrow that shoots love darts. He's actually a Roman God.
- People give cards, chocolate and gifts on Valentine's Day.
- Valentine's Day celebrates love.
- The holiday of love is celebrated all over the world.
- The most popular gift on Valentine's Day is chocolate.
- In addition to chocolate, people give out red roses.
- Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th every year.
Other Important Winter Holidays
While Christmas, Hanukkah and Valentine's Day might be the big contenders, they aren't the only holidays in winter. People also celebrate presidents and famous people during winter.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on the third Monday in January and celebrates a famous activist for African American equality.
- The third Monday in February is reserved for President's Day and celebrates all the presidents. Even though it started with George Washington's birthday.
- Kwanzaa is a seven day celebration that happens in the end of December to celebrate African culture and heritage.
- Groundhog Day happens on February 2 and has a famous groundhog Phil that may or may not see his shadow.
Frozen Winter Fun
Having fun in the sun is great and all but the snow adds a whole new dimension of awesome. Not only can you go sledding with your buds, but you can have a snowball fight on snow days from school. Buddle up and grab your gloves because you are going to need them after learning all these winter facts.