Ah! at last it’s 21 December – the shortest day – or rather, the day with the fewest hours of daylight. The length of the day itself remains 24 of your earth hours. The actual solstice, the moment when the sun is farthest away from the equator, occurs on 22 December at 00.22UT.
It may be only a few a minutes of extra light each day, but those few minutes make me very, very happy.
Photo: the sun at Callanish by Moth Clark
To neolithic and bronze age farmers, the solstice marked the point when the sun returned and the cycle of planting and growth could resume. The event was celebrated with festivals. The Romans had the Saturnalia festival at this time in honour of the god of farming. These festive practices were hijacked by christians and morphed into christmas.
There is undoubtedly a human need to celebrate something around the time of the shortest day. I will be celebrating my son’s 13th birthday on 24 December and the lengthening days. Whatever you choose to celebrate, I wish you happy solstice!