Short Post On The Shortest Day


The sun rose in East Greenwich at 7:10 this morning, but the real solar event happened almost an hour earlier. At 6:12 a.m., the winter solstice occurred. Today is the shortest day of the year.

Solstice is a great word because its Latin roots give poetic explanation to a planetary ballet. The sun (sol) appears to stand still (sistere) each December 21st or 22nd as it reaches the southernmost part in our sky. Then it reverses direction and starts an inexorable trek northward, culminating with summer solstice in June. I remember trying to explain this phenomenon to my kids with an orange and a grapefruit. Good thing they had science teachers.

It’s raining today, but that shouldn’t dampen the celebration. Tomorrow, we gain three seconds of daylight; on Sunday, seven. Break out the SPF 30 and hum the Beatles classicSun, sun, sun, here it comes…


In some ways, the saddest day of the year should be the happiest: Summer solstice, because I always think that it’s all downhill until Dec. 21 for light. But Dec. 21 is the happiest day because of exactly what you wrote. And thankfully the crazy holidays distract you so that the next thing you know it’s mid January and it’s looking reasonable at 6 p.m.! Thanks John!

This is the ray of light (or sunshine – maybe) on the first day of winter. The ‘inexorable trek northward’ – aren’t we all heading that way?! Great post, John. Happy winter!

Hope so, Martha! Thanks for all your reads and comments in 2012. Love your insights.

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