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Time to celebrate shortest day

Stonehenge Aotearoa. PHOTO/FILE


With the shortest day of the year today, we can look forward to longer days ahead, as well as the promise of warmer weather to come – but it may take a little time.

Stonehenge Aotearoa manager Richard Hall says while weather after the shortest day, or winter solstice, can typically pack a punch, finer days are likely to follow.

“It does mark a major change [meteorologically], you’ll probably get some harsher weather after that.

“It’s the same as when you turn a fire on in a cold room, it takes a while before it gets hot.

“This is really the darkest time of the year, so it takes a while for the warmth to begin as it moves through and the cold to move out.”

MetService meteorologist Andy Best said colder weather was usually to be expected in the time after the solstice before the warmer weather kicked in.

“We’re going into the coldest time of the year just after the solstice, and then we get the spring weather patterns and things start to warm up a bit.”

Richard Hall. PHOTO/FILE

But Hall says the winter solstice on June 21 marks more than just the middle of the winter season.

The solstice marks an ancient celebration for cultures throughout the ages, and it’s a day that Stonehenge Aotearoa celebrates every year.

“It’s important because it’s an ancient tradition, it doesn’t matter which culture you go back to — these were the days which were important to people around the world and had great significance.”

“It marked the time when light defeated darkness. Up until that time, the days are getting shorter and shorter but, on this day, light defeats darkness and the days will begin to grow in length.”

The solstice celebrations at Stonehenge Aotearoa have been of great interest to celestial enthusiasts in the past, even drawing crowds of druids, members of the ancient Celtic religion of Druidry.

“It’s the ancient religion in Europe, particularly in England, before the appearance of Christianity.

“They worship a mother earth goddess, celebrating the seasons.”

Hall says the upcoming solstice marked more than just a day on the calendar and was something worth recognising.

“Often they just become dates. But down through time, they’ve been very important to cultures and people around the world.”

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