The solstices, a word whose etymological meaning is “still sun,” denotes the time when the sun reaches its highest or lowest visible height in the sky, thereby determining the duration of daylight. This cosmological event happens twice a year. The summer solstice, which unfolds during morning of the 20th and 21st of June, marks the longest day of the year. The winter solstice occurs during the afternoon of 21st and 22nd of December and denotes the shortest day of the year.
During these days here in Yucatán, one has the opportunity to observe the incredible accuracy of Maya astronomy integrated into the ceremonial architecture. At the Castle at Chichén Itzá, between three and five in the afternoon during sunset, it is possible to see that stairwells remain lighted while the remainder of the pyramid darkens.
The winter solstice, on the other hand, marks the end of the autumn and ushers in winter. It is said that the Maya built these complex structures to plan out their lives on the basis of the seasons of the land, nature, and environment in each of these seasons.
At present, this event has become a tradition for both the residents of Yucatán State as well as for foreign visitors alike. Multitudes venture to the Castle at Chichén Itzá with the belief that they will be filled with positive energy and as such be able to enter the approaching year on the right foot and with a shining spirit.