Hey y’all! I’m about to go away for the weekend, so I’m writing this post the day after the American presidential election. Whew, what a ride! I’ll refrain from getting political here; I’ll just say I’m glad this race is over.
And now that we hopefully have more time to devote to pastimes that don’t arouse anger, sadness, fear, or a combination thereof within ourselves, it’s time to enjoy winter! Well, ok, winter doesn’t OFFICIALLY start until December 21, but things are definitely getting colder! At least in eastern Washington state, no one can go outside without boots, scarves, and coats, and the sun sets at 4 o’clock now. So, I’ve decided to look up a few facts about this time of year when the mercury in thermometers drops and the sun goes to bed waaayyy too early.
Let’s go! 😀
The Southern Hemisphere is generally thought of as warmer than its northern counterpart, despite many wintry places below the equator. However, winters on the southern side of our planet do tend to be milder. There is more ocean in the Southern Hemisphere, and less land, leading to a less extreme climate, at least when it comes to cold temperatures (I’m sure Australians would argue with me about extreme hot temperatures). Perhaps this is why no country from the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted the Winter Olympics.
The sun is actually closest to the Earth around winter. This is an event called the perihelion. While this may seem a tad unbelievable, given we usually associate colder temperatures with less sun, one must remember that the Earth’s distance from the sun is not what causes the seasons – the Earth’s tilt on its axis does that.
It is especially important to stay warm and safe during the colder months, even more so than it is to stay cool during summer. Some studies have put forth that cold-related deaths outnumber heat-related ones by almost half. While one has to view those numbers with the proper context (e.g. look at how studies were conducted), cold does seem to be more deadly than heat among many demographics, especially among people over 80 years of age. Interestingly, men are more likely to die from cold than women.
Winter weather has meant snow and ice in much of the world for thousands of years, and as soon as humans figured out how, we started using that snow and ice to sculpt. Some of these sculptures are simple in form, yet still impressive. For example, in 2008, residents of Bethel, Maine, built the world’s tallest snow-person – a snow woman, who was over 122 feet (37.2 meters) tall! Other snow/ice sculptures are much more intricate, like the one’s you’d see at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China. Here are some pictures I pulled from their website: