Ben Lowry: The days will be getting longer again from Tuesday

We are almost at the darkest point of the year in a country, Northern Ireland, that is so far north in Europe that it gets very dark indeed.

By Ben Lowry
Sunday, 19th December 2021, 11:57 pm
Updated Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:50 am
Dawn at St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay off the North East English coast on Friday, days before the shortest day of the year. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Dawn at St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay off the North East English coast on Friday, days before the shortest day of the year. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Tuesday will be December 21, the shortest day of the year, followed by the glorious period when the days begin to get brighter — imperceptibly at first, then more noticeably, and ultimately rapidly.

No wonder in such a latitude people have been celebrating this time of year since long before the birth of Christ.

And yet, for all the gloom of late November and early December, particularly on grey, wet, windy and chilly days — of which we have had a few recently — there is always the compensation of the sunny days. There are always some sunny days at this point in the calendar. They have extra magic for two reasons.

First, because of their rarity, given the sparse amounts of daylight, let alone sunshine.

Second because of the low angle of the sun.

When it does emerge in early or mid December, it does so in rare and often special ways, suddenly emerging from behind a tree or between buildings to light up a room or a scene at an angle it lacks at any other time.

• Ben Lowry (@Benlowry2) is News Letter editor. Other articles by him below and beneath that information on how to subscribe to the paper:

• Ben Lowry Dec 11: Joint anthem at Northern Ireland games would be a ploy to undermine it

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