A couple pulls a sleigh through the snow in Jerusalem, Israel. A couple pulls a sleigh through the snow in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

The shortest day of the year is upon us. With the Earth's axis tilting at 23.5 degrees, everything north of the equator is currently at its farthest possible point from the sun.

Although the altitude of the midday sun will gradually begin to rise from now until the summer solstice, the increase in sunlight hours means nothing for the actual winter weather forecast, which is predicted to be exceptionally awful this year.

Don't let the frosty weather get you down, though! There are plenty of ways to make the most of the chill, whether it's trying out a new winter recipe, going for a sled ride, maintaining or starting a winter exercise regimen, get inspired with these indoor play ideas, or just spending quality, cozy "hygge" time with family and friends.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in December 2013.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

How to make the most of the season's shortest days
With the Earth's axis now tilting at 23.5 degrees, the northern hemisphere is at its farthest point from the sun.