Posted by: christinelaennec | December 21, 2010

Happy solstice!

Ouf! as they say in France.  We finally made it:  the shortest day of the year.  After today, imperceptibly at first, the days will begin to lengthen.  Hooray!

I love the winter solstice.  To me it symbolises the importance of holding onto the idea of light, if not light itself.  It’s a time of the year when we are sleepy and want to hibernate.  I think it makes a certain amount of sense to follow our instincts and rest.  I don’t just mean resting physically, but also taking the time to stop and reflect on the year just as the wheel is turning and we are heading inevitably into another season of growth.  If only the dark seasons of our lives were as predictable as the solstice, or so comparatively short-lived!  When we’re plunged into a dark time, we really need to believe that light and growth are possible, despite all the outward signs to the contrary.

Here in Aberdeen, the shortest day is pretty short:  about 6 hours or so of daylight, depending on the weather.   On a very overcast, rainy or snowy day, the daylight hours can be very dim indeed. Here is 8 a.m. a few days ago, as it was snowing:

8 a.m. in falling snow, Aberdeen, Dec. 19th 2010.

The sunset can sometimes be almost imperceptible:

Sunset through falling snow, 16th Dec. 2010, 3 p.m.

However, compared to those who live really far north – like Arctic Mum who blogs about the “blue hour” when they have a glimmer of light before the darkness descends again – we really don’t have that much to complain about.

Here is a nearly-solstice sunrise, on a clear day.  The photo was taken at 9 a.m.:

Sunrise 18th Dec. 2010, 9 a.m.

And to round things off, here is the sunset on that same day:

Sunset, 18th December 2010, 3:10 p.m.

This year there’s a lot going on at the solstice:  there’s a full moon – the full Cold Moon to give it its Native American name – and also a lunar eclipse!  I’m not sure if we can see it from Europe, but I will keep an eye out.  How interesting that would be:  even the moon becomes dark, on the darkest of days!  And then the light will prevail once again.



  1. Happy Solstice !Thanks again for the wonderful pictures.And for the wise lesson I needed this one…time to relax…I’ ll try my best.

  2. What a wonderful perspective “…the importance of holding onto the idea of light, if not light itself“.

  3. Dear Erna, well it’s easier said than done, I should take my own advice a lot more often!
    Dear oldblack, I’m glad you liked the post. I think for you it’s the opposite time of year, and your longest day just now? But holding on to the idea of light when there’s not much evidence of it can be necessary at any time of year…

  4. the Light will prevail….this was a beautiful post. I’ll not look at the soltice again the same way. thank you for sharing!

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