Winter Solstice

Season’s Greetings!

Season’s greetings from All4ielts! In this article we’ll be taking a look at the origins of Christmas, the day celebrated by Christians as the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Celebrated on 25 December in the Catholic and Protestant world and on 7 January in the Eastern Orthodox world (according to the Julian calendar which is still in use in Eastern Christianity), the time around this date had long been a major holiday.

The Winter Solstice, the shortest day and darkest night in the northern hemisphere, is celebrated on 21 December. This time of the year, in the darkest days of winter, was traditionally a time for partying and merry-making with the harvest in and little work to do in the fields.

In ancient Rome the festival held at this time of the year was known as Saturnalia in honour of the agricultural god Saturn. It was a time of wild partying when the normal order was turned upside down with the masters serving their slaves.

We’ve come up with a sample answer for speaking part 2 that describes that mysterious  historical monument, Stonehenge, where people gather every year on 21 December to celebrate the Winter Solstice.


Describe a historical place that you enjoyed visiting                             

You should say:

  • what the place is
  • where it is located
  • why the place is historically important

   and say why you enjoyed visiting it



Here’s the candidate’s notes:

 speaking  part 2 notes ielts



And here’s their sample answer:


Last year I attended a language course in the UK and as part of the course we went on a lot of different day trips, so I’m going to tell you about one which I really enjoyed which was a visit we made to Stonehenge.


Stonehenge is a really interesting place located near Salisbury in southern England. It consists of a number of huge stones arranged in a circle on the top of a hill. There’s some upright stones with a massive stone placed on top. It’s thought to be around 5,000 years old so it’s amazing to think how our ancestors manged to put the stones there without modern equipment like cranes and so on.


No-one’s really sure why Stonehenge was built – some people think it might have been a temple or some sort of hospital. When we visited, our guide explained that on one day of the year, the longest day, the sun rises directly over a certain stone and its rays reach the middle of the circle. The guide said that there’s a big party at Stonehenge on the longest day with people gathering to watch the sunrise.


Many people think that historical places are boring but I really enjoy visiting these sorts of places. It’s much more interesting than going to a shopping mall as you can really feel the history, I mean the atmosphere. Stonehenge is such a mysterious place – as I said, we don’t really know why it was built but just being there makes your spine tingle.


After our visit, we worked on a group project about Stonehenge. I remember that we also learnt that it’s popular for the shortest day in December as the sun rises over another stone. Some people now think that it was maybe some sort of calendar or observatory. Whatever it was meant for, I think it’s a magical place to visit and I’ll never forget the trip we made to Stonehenge.




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