The shortest day

Tuesday 21st Dec 2010 by theWeather Club

Today is the winter solstice. The shortest day of the winter, when the sun is at its furthest point from the celestial equator. It is a day that has been rich with symbolism since time immemorial, and for many it is a day of celebration. On this day - though it may not often seem so - the country begins the long march towards spring, with each day being slightly longer than the last. This year’s solstice even saw its first lunar eclipse for 400 years adding to the mystery associated with the event.

However for a great many people the lyrical drama of the day will be completely lost. For them the most appealing thing about today will be its brevity. Thousands of people continue to be stuck at airports and train stations around the country. Record low temperatures continue to be set, with parts of County Down in Northern Ireland hitting -17˚C last night. Christmas travel plans are in disarray and it continues to be difficult to get almost anywhere at all. With al lthis and much more besides the thought of today being over more quickly than most is sure to bring a wry smile to many lips. Of course with most of our jobs no longer tied to the land, it won’t make any real difference to the working day. However the mind is a powerful thing and the thought of a little bit less darkness each day will be a lift to many, even if all that the extra light illuminates is another crowded train platform, long bus queue or traffic jam