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when does winter start?

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When does winter start?

How you define the first day of winter depends on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological winter.

The day in our calendar that marks the first day of winter usually refers to the astronomical seasons which are a result of the Earth's axis and orbit around the Sun.

Astronomical winter

This year, astronomical winter begins on 21 December 2021 and ends on 20 March 2022.

For upcoming years, the dates for astronomical winter will be:

YearWinter StartsWinter Ends
Winter 2021Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Sunday, 20March 2022

Winter 2022Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Monday, 20March 2023

Winter 2023Friday, 22 December 2023

Wednesday, 20 March 2024

Winter 2024Saturday, 21 December 2024

Thursday, 20 March 2025

The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the Sun. Both Equinoxes and Solstices are related to the Earth's orbit around the Sun. However, the dates of the Equinox and Solstice aren't fixed due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun.

Meteorological winter

However, at the Met Office, we often use a meteorological definition of the seasons. By the meteorological calendar, the first day of winter is always 1 December; ending on 28 (or 29 during a Leap Year) February.

Meteorological seasons consist of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each. These seasons are split to coincide with our Gregorian calendar, making it easier for meteorological observing and forecasting to compare seasonal and monthly statistics.

The seasons are defined as spring (March, April, May), summer (June, July, August), autumn (September, October, November) and winter (December, January, February).

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