It is winter solstice here today, the shortest day and the weather is cold and wet with a brisk breeze blowing. The clouds are heavy and the light is low. My mother would have described the day as “dour.” All rather fitting for the shortest day. So we are hunkered down, keeping warm and spending a lot of time indoors.
However it is also Summer solstice and Flag Day in the Shetland Islands. The Shetland Islanders proudly fly their very own flag on this day.
We have a neighbour whose origins rest in the Shetland Islands and this year he has erected a light-weight flag pole and is proudly flying his nation’s flag. The white cross on the blue background is slightly off-set although that cannot be seen clearly in my photo.
Da Hjalt: Nordic and Scottish heritage mingle in the Shetland flag
The blue flag with the white cross, which proudly flies over Shetland, tells the history of the transformation of nationality of these islands in the northernmost part of the United Kingdom. Had the Danish king paid a wedding dowry to the Scottish king in 1469, the history and the flag of the islands would have been somewhat different. The Shetland ensign, which combines the Danish and Scottish emblems and colours, is the sign of the self esteem and autonomy of the twenty two thousand people living in the North Sea.
Fishing as an industry is synonymous with the Shetland Islands, as oil and gas have become since the 1970’s. These natural resources gave the islanders their self esteem. Many islanders fly their own blue and white flag to express their unique character. They show allegiance to Scotland, as well as to their ancestors from Norway and Denmark. Officially Shetland is part of the United Kingdom. The official language is English and the people British but they feel strong connections with Scandinavia.
Today is the shortest day and many people have been celebrating this winter solstice, acknowledging the importance of the dark but anticipating the return of the light.
It continues to be a very testing year here in New Zealand, especially for the residents of Christchurch and surrounding areas.
While nature has been showing her hand dramatically in many ways, nature has also been kind to us here in “windy” Wellington. We have had an exceptionally long period of calm weather with temperatures being unseasonably warm and none of us have any complaints about those two features.
We have had a good many days of cloud this week and the daylight is very low. However from my living room window there is a flowering cherry tree which still has an abundance of leaves which have all turned into their autumn finery after some clear, chilly nights last week.
Set against the low light it is a beacon of colour and vibrancy to relish and to remind us that sun, light and heat will return in time.
My photos do not necessarily do it justice as it seems to glow to the naked eye.