When does winter start?

How you define the first day of winter depends on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological winter.

The day in our calendar that marks the first day of winter usually refers to the astronomical seasons which are a result of the Earth’s axis and orbit around the Sun.

Astronomical winter

This year, astronomical winter begins on 21 December 2021 and ends on 20 March 2022.

8 interesting facts about winter

Whether you dread the windy weather or look forward to the crisp mornings, find out 8 interesting facts about winter.

Winter is a fascinating time of year and we’ve got 8 interesting facts about the season.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

1. Winter is coming

There are two different dates when winter could be said to begin, depending on whether we are referring to the Meteorological or Astronomical winter.

Astronomical winter is defined by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and begins on the winter solstice, which falls on 21 or 22 December.

However, when recording and comparing climate data, it is important to have set dates that can be compared and so for this reason a fixed date of 1 December is used to mark the start of the meteorological winter.

2. Earth is closest to the Sun in winter

You might be surprised to know that in the northern hemisphere the Earth is closest to the Sun during winter.

Around 3 January, the Earth reaches perihelion (peri meaning ‘near’ and helion meaning ‘sun’) and the Earth is 3.1 million miles closer to the Sun than at aphelion (around 5 July when the Earth is furthest from the Sun).

Earth’s distance from the Sun is not what causes the seasons but it does affect the length of them. Around perihelion, the Earth is moving around 1 kilometre per second faster than at aphelion which results in winter being 5 days shorter than summer.


Peri = near

Helion = sun

(metOffice web)

3. The coldest temperature recorded in winter

The coldest temperature ever recorded during a UK winter was -27.2 °C, which has been recorded 3 times. It was twice recorded in the village of Braemar, on 11 February 1895 and again on 10 January 1982, and once in Altnaharra on 30 December 1995. Both sites are in the Scottish Highlands.

4. The winter of 1963

The winter of 1963 is one of the coldest on record and the coldest since 1740. Temperatures consistently reached lower than – 20 °C with blizzards, snowdrifts and even the sea freezing around the coast.

The severe cold began just before Christmas in 1962 as a high pressure system sat to the northeast of the UK for much of the winter, dragging cold polar winds over the UK.

On 29 and 30 December, a blizzard struck the UK with snowdrifts up to 6 metres deep. Snow continued to fall frequently and until early March 1963, much of the UK remained covered in snow.

5. The roots of winter

The word winter comes from the Germanic wintar which in turn is derived from the root wed meaning ‘wet’ or water’, and so signifies a wet season.

In Anglo-Saxon cultures, years were counted by the winters, so a person could be said to be ‘2 winters old.’ The first day of winter was also of symbolic importance named Vetrardag and falling comparatively early in the year between 10 and 16 October.

6. Wet snow vs. dry snow

Ever wondered why sometimes snow sticks together and sometimes it’s powdery and loose? The reason for this lies in the snowflake’s journey as it falls through the atmosphere.

Snowflakes that fall through a dry, cool atmosphere will be small and powdery and won’t stick together. We call this dry snow – it’s ideal for skiing, but not for building a snowman.

The snowflakes that form wet snow will have fallen through temperatures slightly warmer than 0 °C. As they fall, the snowflakes melt slightly around the edges and stick together to form large, heavy flakes. These stick together easily and are the best for a snowball fight and making snowmen.

7. Reindeer vision

Some reindeer living above the Arctic Circle live in complete darkness for several weeks of the year.

To adapt to this, a small area of tissue behind the retina called the tapetum lucidum changes colour from a gold colour in summer months to blue in winter. This allows the reindeer’s eyes to detect ultraviolet light and to see in the dark.

8. How much water is there in snow?

The exact amount of water contained in snow can vary quite significantly depending on how the snow formed, but as a general average, every 12 cm of snow would provide 1 cm of water.

Snowman piano – D Peppiatt (original H Blake)

A bit of a cold spell

And that’s the first week of January completed already!What a change this week from really mild weather to freezing cold and icy. A cold ride home, my ears and cheeks felt so cold! By the end of the week we also a dusting of snow as well but nothing like some parts of the country.

No one owns the …

Just thought I would add this quote today which popped up on my timeline today – very true.

Beautiful mild day

I heard a bird sing in the dark of December. A magical thing. And sweet to remember. We are nearer to Spring than we were in September. I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.” Oliver Herford

Dull November

Dull November brings the blast; Then the leaves are whirling fast. Sarah Coleridge

Lake District Memories V

It’s Sunday so it must be visit the Lake District day! If you go to the Lakes, be prepared for every weather. All photographs are taken by SJ Butler Photography. The climate, together with the geology of the area has made the Lake District what it is today. In the last 2 million years a […]

So tired…

Well my answer is yes, I’m feeling really exhausted and I’m so ready for a few days off coming up soon. I haven’t really been out with my camera taking any Autumnal shots yet. I’m hoping that next week might have some really lovely days so that i can go out and take my camera […]

Monday. On the mend

Monday morning here again, another (and hopefully my last) of being off with Covid. Got the all clear with my (two) LFT this morning so fingers crossed back to work tomorrow.

I’m still full of cold, no taste or smell and chest a bit wheezy this morning but if I take it nice and slow all week there’s another weekend there waiting for me!

Deep Winter

Thought I would show one of my Winter fine art composites from last year – this was made with many layers on PhotoShop. Yes, the rabbit is (was) a real rabbit that a photographed on a hill near me, funnily enough called Bunny Hill! The top header picture is actually part of Bunny Hill!

The Christmas craft fair at No3 went great – I sold my friend sold quite a lot of cards. I don’t know what portion of stock I have left until I return to work tomorrow. So a big shout out to Nicola Harper Textiles Artist! (link to come soon).

Sunday Snow

A bit late on the updates but we had S N O W !
Normally I’m the first one out there with my camera chasing the deepest snow. Not. this. time.
Still trying to get back to ‘normal’ but at the same time having to go back to ‘normal’.

Made my first step out into the garden to chip away at the thick ice and the snow that had accumulated on the bird baths over the past few days. I could here the birds chirping in delight at having some fresh drinking/bathing water!

That’s all the news today, keep warm, keep safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Snowflakes are kisses from heaven