As darkness cloaks Antarctica, science and support staff wintering across the white continent will today celebrate Midwinter’s Day – the shortest day in the Austral winter. With some staff experiencing 24-hour darkness, this day represents a turning point where the return of the sun gets ever closer.
In a tradition that goes back to the days of Scott and Shackleton, BAS staff at Rothera, Bird Island and King Edward Point Research Stations, will celebrate with a festive meal and exchange gifts. Prime Minister Theresa May has sent a letter congratulating BAS staff on the achievements of this year, and wishing them a happy Midwinter’s Day.
A highlight, which brings family and friends closer, is listening to the BBC World Service’s annual Midwinter’s Day broadcast. This year’s programme is presented by radio DJ Cerys Matthews of BBC6 Music and will include personal greetings to everyone working at BAS’s research stations.
The world-class polar research carried out by BAS scientists continues throughout the year, so festivities must fit around ongoing science and maintenance tasks. Some of the fun activities this year include “Winter Olympics”, breakfast in bed served by station leaders, and exchanging home-made gifts with each other.