21 December 2011
In three hours the northern hemisphere will tilt as far away from the sun as it will get for the year. What a relief. The days will start gradually, but inevitably, to get longer, and the sun will rise higher in the sky every day.
I think I prefer the traditional name midwinter, rather than referring to this as the first day of winter, as we do now. The solstice marks such a turning point and in a few weeks the sun will start behaving much more spring-like, even if the temperatures don't. Mind you, with the weather we've had recently, we've no business calling this midwinter - the freezing rain today is really the first serious weather of the season.