People in the United States are going to experience only 9 hours and 32 minutes of sunlight on the shortest day of the year in 2014, which is Dec. 21. The shortest day of the year, still 24 hours, is measured according to hours of sunlight.
The first day of winter, the day of the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice, or the first day of summer, is the shortest day of the year. The dates of both the Winter and Summer Solstice move around. For example, the date of the winter solstice for 2014 is Dec. 21, 2014, and for 2015, the date will be Dec. 22, 2015.