When Does Winter Start for You?
When does winter start?
I guess that would depend on who you ask. If it were me I would refer to the days after the turkey has been consumed and the Christmas decorations have found their spots in and on my home. Where hot cocoa, cold egg nog and other indulgent goodies are expected to be overly consumed. And warm fuzzy blankets call my name, begging for me to wrap myself tight in plushy confinement. It’s when even the most redundant holiday songs are welcomed to get on my nerves for yet another season.
To be honest I'll never get tired of this song...
Meteorologists' and most people's start of winter are the same. However they don’t need the prompts of dessert trays and Santa décor to cue them in on it. The meteorological seasons have regimented us into splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each, coinciding with our Gregorian calendar. This makes the start of winter precisely the first of December.
But did you know there’s another way to measure the start of winter? If your answer is "no" and you think I’m just pulling your leg, I’m not… Well not this time. This other method is called the Astronomical winter season and this year the astronomical winter begins on the 21st of December. Unlike the meteorological winter season that has a set date, the Astronomical winter solstice can fall on either December 20, 21, 22 or 23.
You may be wondering what’s up with the noncommittal attitude of this type of calendar.
There’s actually a logical explanation for this. The Astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the sun. The tropical year, which is the length of time the sun takes to return to the same position in the season’s cycle, is different to the calendar year. The tropical year is approximately 365.242199 days but varies from year to year because of the influence of other planets and the Earth’s own “wobble” during its constant spin (precession) also adds to the altering solstice dates.
So if you were to go by those calculations winter starts days before Christmas (Dec. 25th) and Kwanzaa start (Dec. 26th- Jan. 1st). Since Hanukkah starts on December 6th and ends on the 14th of this year it will be officially celebrated in autumn. It won’t be until 2017 that Hanukkah will be held in winter (Dec. 12th -20th) if we would go according to the Astronomical calendar.
Wow, that got really date heavy fast. So I guess however you decide when winter is here for you will work.
I will stick to my method of recognition and celebration to bring in the wintery months, deeming it over once I long for a warm spring day. As one of my many mottos go, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”. Happy winter everyone!