Antarctic Stations Celebrate Midwinter's Day
In Antarctica, the winter solstice marks the halfway point of the harsh, cold, dark winter. Since the time of the early explorers, those who work in Antarctica during the long polar night have celebrated Midwinter's Day, a unique and special holiday for the most southerly continent.
The crew of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition was the first to celebrate Midwinter’s Day in 1898. The unwitting crew was the first to winter in Antarctica aboard the Belgica, trapped in sea ice below the Antarctic Circle. Among the crew was explorer Roald Amundsen, whose team was the first to reach the South Pole in 1911.
Today, Antarctic research stations have their own Midwinter celebratory traditions. Most stations trade good wishes and greeting cards across the continent. President Eisenhower began the custom of sending an official greeting to Americans overwintering in Antarctica, a tradition upheld this year by President Biden.
In addition to greetings, scientists and support staff at the three U.S. research stations – McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott South Pole, and Palmer – celebrate with a special meal to mark the midpoint of their winter isolation. Greetings from the almost 200 people wintering at U.S stations this year are below.