Around the world, tranquility is gradually disappearing as man-made sounds, especially noise from planes and cars, increasingly encroach on quiet places. There’s a lot of interest in tranquility at the moment from campaign groups, governments and researchers (e.g. ). The fear is that unless we identify tranquil places and try to preserve them, they will gradually disappear; especially in crowded developed countries such as the UK.
But how quiet a place is varies with the seasons, the day of the week and even the time of day. And I reckon that in England many of us will have just experienced the quietest day of 2009 during the Christmas break. Maybe even the quietest day of the last decade.
The widespread snow and ice meant that airports and roads ground to a halt greatly reducing the transportation noise that usually accompanies our lives. Being Christmas, many work places were closed so industrial noise was probably very low. The freezing cold would have encouraged people to stay indoors in front of the fire. When fewer people are out and about places become quieter.
However, the weather would have done nothing to damp the sound indoors including the usual family Christmas arguments. The rows would have been as loud as ever, maybe even louder, as everyone was stuck indoors. So maybe it wasn’t the quiestest day for everyone.
 Pheasant, R., Horoshenkov, K., Watts, G., and Barrett, B. (2008). “The acoustic and visual factors influencing the construction of tranquil space in urban and rural environments tranquil spaces-quiet places?,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 123, 1446-1457.