Heritage Malta is holding a winter-welcoming sunrise event on 21 December—the day of the winter solstice—at the prehistoric Mnajdra Temples, according to a press statement sent to Business Malta.
The winter solstice, also known as hiemal or hibernal solstice, is the shortest day of the year when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun—happening twice a year; once in each hemisphere. It is also the first day of winter.
Part of Mnajdra, which was one of the Neolithic complexes built between the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, was constructed to mark the position of the rising sun on the first day of each season.
Participants of the event will watch the sunrise lighting up the edge of a megalith found along the passage connecting the first pair of chambers to the inner chambers.
“Since the people who built these buildings are thought to have been farmers, their livelihood depended heavily on agriculture and probably, the changing seasons had a special significance to them. Possibly, gatherings of people and celebrations in this area during this period have taken place since ancient times,” Heritage Malta says.