Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Day of Winter or Midwinter?

John and I have had this discussion from time to time over the years.

He swears December 21, the shortest daylight and longest night of the year, also known as the Winter Solstice is the middle of winter and not the first day of winter like we all think.

So, I went to Wikipedia to prove him wrong, and this is what I found.

Winter is a subjective term, so there is no scientifically established beginning or middle of winter but the winter solstice itself is clearly calculated to within a second. For Celtic countries, such as Ireland, the calendarical winter season has traditionally begun November 1 on Hallows eve orSamhain. Winter ends and spring begins on Imbolc or Candlemas, which is February 1 or 2. This calendar system of seasons may be based on the length of days exclusively. Most East Asian cultures define the seasons bysolar terms, with Dong zhi at the winter solstice as the middle or "extreme" of winter. This system is based on the Sun's apparent height above the horizon at noon. Some midwinter festivals have occurred according to lunar calendars and so took place on the night of Hōku (Hawaiian, the full moon closest to the winter solstice). And many European solar calendar midwinter celebrations still centre upon the night of December 24 leading into the December 25 in the north, which was considered to be the winter solstice upon the establishment of the Julian calendar.[citation needed] In the JewishTalmudTeḳufat Tevet, the day of the winter solstice, is recorded as the first day of the "stripping time" or winter season. Persian culture also recognizes it as the beginning of winter.

I was all set to show him how wrong he was and the Old Celts proved him right dammit!!

I'm still saying December 21 is the first day of winter!

What do you think?


Mellodee said...

Anyone who has ever lived in the Northern states knows that the Solstice is the beginning of winter. If it wasn't, all those January, February, March, and even a few April snowstorms and blizzards would happen a lot sooner and would really louse up Halloween!

linlah said...

I like to think of the 21st as the begining when the sun stays around just a little longer each day. It warms my little winter heart.

slommler said...

I say so too!! But this 21 inches of snow I just got says otherwise...Ha!

unmitigated me said...

According to the calendar most westerners us (including us, unless John observes Sakhalin!) we consider December 21st the first day of Winter. Summer Solstice is the first day of summer (in June). The autumnal and vernal equinoxes are the halfway-between days in March and September.

Now, if you go solely by the weather, then Winter would begin differently everywhere!

I've always consider midwinter to be when I am ready to kill for some daylight and warmth, around late January.