Thursday, 21 December 2017

Winter Solstice and apparent snow

Today, at 16.28hrs we will have reached the precise moment of mid-winter. Neither the time (or the date) is the same each year, but for 2017 that is the marker. Our ancestors used to mark this date with cheer and trepidation - the light was about to return, but the 'famine' months of deepest winter were about to get a grip. Cattle were slaughtered (for their meat and also to save on feed), drink was fermented and ready to sup, and the stones were aligned in the hope that the Gods would be kind. Today we just turn up the thermostat and ensure that we've got enough cranberry sauce in the cupboard...

White Christmases? Where did the wish for them and myth about them come from? I heard something about this on the radio the other day, which suggested that Dickens is to blame. Even back in the Victorian era they were sentimental for them, which just goes to show that it didn't always look like the North Pole here in December. This week will see my 60th Christmas Day (I know, I look at least 75...) and it got me thinking about how many 'White Christmases' I have enjoyed (no, not listening to Bing warble it out, that would be hundreds!). Having spent every one in southern England I needed to use the 'Met Office' definition of a 'White Christmas', that being a snow flake falling on the London Met Office roof during the 24 hours of Christmas Day. I guessed I had seen four. Then I Googled it. Apparently there have been nine! No, I can't remember them either...

10 comments:

DorsetDipper said...

midwinter? maybe, maybe not. It's one of those averages that doesn't really mean much. The earliest sunset has already been, around the 12th Dec, and the latest sunrise is still over a week away on roughly 31st Dec. So what your mid winter is depends whether you are an early morning birder, or one who attends rotates.

Source https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/london?month=12

Steve Gale said...

Well DD, it is a moveable feast. Shortest daylight, longest night, pagan ceremony, day of reckoning... all bundled up into something called the solstice... sort of!

DorsetDipper said...

damn autocorrect, attends roosts. roosts. roosts.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I can remember one white Christmas in my lifetime here!

Gibster said...

SIXTY???? You ol' duffer, lol. Still, you don't look a day over forty (ok, maybe a few days. A week at most). Long may you enjoy the solstices, buddy.

Steve Gale said...

I think that the Met Office definition of a white Christmas is maybe not quite as 'white' as our own mental picture of one!

Steve Gale said...

Yes Seth, 60 - but I am clinging to only just turning 59 in age!!!

Derek Faulkner said...

Now that I'm 70 and wishing I was still a youthful 60, I can't recall that many white Christmas's here in Kent. I know that there was a severe winter the year that I was born but don't recall if that included Christmas. Can't remember any from my childhood, though they could of happened, but do recall a really good one in December 1970, the year I first got married, when it snowed heavily on Christmas Eve.

Gibster said...

Aaaaah, of course. That explains the Peter Pan good looks. Have a goodun anyway, Steve.

Steve Gale said...

I'm surprised by that Derek. I always got the impression that north Kent often got snow over Christmas (at least more regularly than us a bit further west)