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Midwinter is the middle of the winter. The term is attested in the early Germanic calendars.


Midwinter is attested in the early Germanic calendars, where it appears to have been a specific day or a number of days during the winter half of the year. Before the adoption of the church calendar, the date of midwinter may have varied due to the use of a lunisolar calendar, or it may have been based on a week system tied to the astronomical winter solstice.[1] In the medieval Icelandic calendar it was the first day of Þorri, the fourth winter month, which corresponds to the middle of January in the Gregorian calendar.[2] According to Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla (c. 1230), the pre-Christian holiday Yule was originally celebrated at midwinter, but in the 10th century, the king Haakon the Good moved it to the same day as Christmas, about three weeks earlier.[3]

Beginning in the 18th century, the term midwinter has sometimes been misunderstood as synonymous with the winter solstice.[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Nordberg 2006, pp. 43–44.
  2. ^ Jansson 2011, p. 59.
  3. ^ Hollander 2007, p. 106; Nordberg 2006, p. 35.
  4. ^ Nordberg 2006, pp. 120–121.


  • Jansson, Svante (2011). "The Icelandic calendar" (PDF). In Óskarsson, Veturliði (ed.). Scripta islandica. Vol. 62. ISSN 0582-3234.
  • Nordberg, Andreas (2006). Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning: Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden. Acta Academiae Regiae Gustavi Adolphi (in Swedish). Vol. 91. Kungl. Gustav Adolfs Akademien för svensk folkkultur. ISBN 91-85352-62-4. ISSN 0065-0897.
  • Snorri Sturluson (2007). Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. Translated by Hollander, M. Lee. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-73061-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bø, Olav. "Midvinter". Kulturhistoriskt lexikon för nordisk medeltid (in Swedish). Vol. 11.