How is this Midwinter?

Today, according to my little diary, is the day of the winter solstice (15:54 UTC, if you want to get technical). Many a time and oft have I read of Midwinter, and its more popular cousin, Midsummer.  Picture my astonishment, therefore, on discovering that these are simply different names for the winter and summer solstices.

Which seems bizarre. The only way in which the solstice is the same thing as the middle of winter is that it’s the shortest day of the year. And yes, short days are associated with winter.

Short day in Norway. Photo taken at midday.
But are they what winter is primarily known for? No. What do you think of when you think of winter? Cold, right? Is Midwinter the middle of the cold season? Not even close. One could be excused for thinking it the beginning of the cold season.

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In Praise of Not-So-Old Technology

In some countries, the windows are double-glazed. In some countries, the windows are triple-glazed. In New Zealand we are a hardy bunch, and unless you live in a fairly new house (or a house with fairly new windows) there’s a good chance you have single-glazed windows.

Yep. A single layer of glass between you and the chill of the winter beyond. Admittedly, our winters aren’t as cold as some places, but when flights head to Scott Base in Antarctica, New Zealand is where they leave from.

Scott Base Antarctica Sign
I’ve spent the last 15 years in two of the cities closest to Antarctica. Brrr.
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