The winter solstice for this year in the Northern Hemisphere took place at 5:44 AM earlier today. That means that it is now officially winter, although the temperatures have been positively winter-like for some time now.
In fact, I wanted to write a blog entry about the strange weather on Sunday, which I heard on the radio (I think it was on Breakfast With the Beatles with Ken Dashow) may very well have been the strangest weather day ever. If it was not, it sure was close, as temperatures started out frigid in the morning, following an unusually cold (but brief) period of sub-freezing temperatures. It then warmed up, and fog mixed with melting snow to produce very strange, almost eerie scenes that morning, and temperatures climbed throughout the morning and into the afternoon, until it reached spring-like temperatures by early afternoon. Then, by later in the evening, it went back to below freezing temperatures. Maybe in some parts of the world, that is relatively normal. In northern New Jersey, particularly in December, that is quite unusual, to see all of that in one day.
Anyway, tonight is the longest night of the year (again, at least it is in the northern hemisphere). Admittedly, this fact is a bit depressing to many, myself included. When it starts to get dark by what feels like afternoon, the days seem impossibly short. And the other morning, it was almost seven in the morning, and was still mostly dark. And no night is longer than this night, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
That said, the days will now only start to grow longer. It will take a while to notice any real significant changes, although they will now head in that direction. I remember hearing a poem once (forget who wrote it) that suggested that it is only by enduring the excesses of winter that we can more fully appreciate the warmer, milder airs of spring.
Still, the winter season has it''s charms, especially this time of the year, early on. By later in January and February, it starts to often feel long and excessive, but for the holiday season, it still feels quite nice.
So, it is winter once again, and this is the longest night of the year.