Celebrating Midwinter’s Day in Antarctica
Staff at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) celebrate Midwinter’s Day today (21 June , 2013). Celebrated as the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, Midwinter’s Day is the shortest and darkest day for the 41 BAS staff currently working at its four wintering research stations in Antarctica. It is the time of the year in Antarctica when staff celebrate in a variety of ways including breakfast in bed provided by the station commanders and a long distance run (weather permitting). The day is concluded with a festive meal and listening to the midwinter broadcast on the radio – a BBC half an hour of music requests and special messages from their loved ones back home for the staff on the station.
Heads of state around the world have also sent goodwill messages, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama.
Back at home colleagues at the BAS offices in Cambridge also join in with a barbecue and, for those willing, a 10km Midwinter Run.
Professor Alan Rodger, BAS director, said: “The BAS staff who over-winter perform vital scientific and technical work. Working in such an environment is never easy, but doing so throughout the dark, cold months of winter is even more challenging. The staff who work there well deserve to celebrate today. I am delighted that the Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama have passed their best wishes to the teams in the South.”
BAS has four stations which it operates over winter: Bird Island, King Edward Point, Halley VI and Rothera.
Agnieszka Fryckowska, base commander for the Halley VI station which is situated on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, said: “Midwinter’s Day marks the start of the end of the long nights and the slow march towards the sunny days of summer. For us being here with just 13 people for nine months this milestone is a positive point in our time here and is a great reward to be enjoyed by all.”
Listen to the BBC Midwinter broadcast, complete with family messages and words of support from celebrities like Stephen Fry.
If you wish to tweet the staff working in the Antarctic, use #BASmidwinter or tweet us directly @BAS_News.