Never ending winter night and summer day. Life above the arctic circle.
Today is the winter solstice. The light returns slowly, adding a minute or so of daylight every day, now when the shortest and darkest day is over. New light, new hope, new inspiration and very soon a new year. I always feel excited and hopeful of new beginnings on the first day of the new year. It is kind of silly, because it is just another day and EVERY new day holds promises of new beginnings.
I grew up above the arctic circle in a small town in the most northern part of Sweden. Our polar night begins December 10th, or really on December 9th which is when the sun sets for the last time of the year. The sun stays away until January 1st at 11.23am when it finally rises.
I remember how lovely it was to see the sun the first day. But the sun was in no rush at all. The first day we don’t even see the whole sun, just a sliver that peeks over the horizon and then dives back down. The time above the horizon increases every day until May 26th when the sun rises and stays above the horizon until July 16th when it finally sets.
I use to get questioned about how it is to live in those extremes. The fact is that it really isn’t that dark in December. There is ALWAYS snow on the ground and that helps. Between about 11am and 2pm there is a special kind of daylight which is hauntingly beautiful. Everything takes on a blue hue, and we call it ‘the blue day’. It is magic. And sure it can be challenging to go to sleep with the sun blazing into the bedroom, also I don’t know how many times I have awaken and been so confused over what time it is. There is a mountain right outside the town, and if you climb it at midnight and can handle the 10 million mosquitos that will attack, there you can see the sun travel and ALMOST dip under the horizon. Nature’s magic.
With that said, winter or summer solstice didn’t really mean anything to me. How much darker and shorter can a day be when the sun hasn’t been seen in 12 days? Also, how much lighter can it get on summer solstice when the sun has been shining uninterrupted for weeks? And with some luck, there can be snow on the ground for both solstices…