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Are you feeling joy or woe with the winter solstice?

The sun rose at 8:28 this morning and will set at 3:51 this afternoon.

Does that measly 7 hours and 23 minutes of daylight fill you with winter delight or winter dread?

Such a question spotlights how today's winter solstice, marking the shortest day of the year, is divisive and means different things to different people.

If you love to ski, snowmobile, dogsled, hike in the snow, skate, curl up by the fire or cocoon at home then you're making the best of winter.

However, if you dislike snow and cold, shovelling and bad road conditions then winter can be melancholy at best and downright depressing at worst.

</who>Brian Proctor is a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

"Today is definitely the shortest day of the year in terms of the amount of sunlight," said Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor.

"It can also mark a time when people are 'weathered out' and are tired of the snow and cold and dark. However, the timing of the winter solstice every year around Dec. 21 means Christmas and the holiday is coming up and we can hopefully take a deep breath and have some rest and relaxation."

</who>Winter excites some people, depresses others.

Winter solstice is when the Earth's tilted axis has the Northern Hemisphere pointed as far from the sun as possible.

That means the sun's path across the sky is as low as it will be all year, thus the late sunrise and early sunset shortening the day.

The short day and long night does tend to put humans into a type of physiological inertia that darkens our mood, can cause fatigue, makes us seek more sleep and even prompt us to eat more and gain weight.

While the winter solstice conjures up talk of the winter doldrums, the excitement of Christmas and New Year's generally doesn't make Dec. 21 the gloomiest day of the year.

That honour belongs to weekdays in January and February when many of us hit the low point of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as the days remain short, winter drags on and spring still seems a long way off.

But there is good news.

Winter solstice may be the shortest day of the year, but it also marks the start of every day after it getting a little longer until summer solstice on June 21.

By the way, just to highlight the contrast with winter solstice, summer solstice features a 4:39 am sunrise and 9:47 pm sunset for a glorious 17 hours and 8 minutes of sunlight that day.

You can also make the best of winter by embracing what makes it magical.

It can be as simple as bundling up and going for a walk in the daylight, watching the birds at the feeder or curling up with a good book in your cozy home to more rigorous winter pursuits such as snowshoeing, skiing or snowmobiling.



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