Nov 15, 2022
For the next two and a half months, the people who live in the northernmost parts of the Arctic will live in total darkness. And, believe it or not, they’ve been looking forward to it.
"This darkness is complete, so you have to sort of live with that and you have to see the beauty in that. And to me, that's not hard at all," one resident of the Nordic islands of Svalbard told NPR. "I kind of feel even more immersed by nature when I walk out into the darkness."
The long period of darkness is called the Polar Night. It begins when the tilt of the Earth forces the Arctic Circle to the lee of the planet. The sun’s rays can’t come over the horizon. It stays that way until late January. That's when communities like Svalbard glimpse their first dawn in months.
US researcher Kari Leibowitz migrated to Norway to study Polar Night’s effect on people. Her findings surprised her. “I just sort of assumed that the Polar Night would be miserable and would be a time that was really hard for people," Leibowitz told NPR. "But when I talk to people in Norway about it, they really liked the Polar Night."
To deal with the darkness, Norwegians use headlamps when they go outside. They carry flare guns to scare away polar bears. They also practice “koselig.” The term means “getting comfy.”
"There's a lot of candles, soft lighting, cozy blankets, drinking tea, gathering around fire and sort of being with your loved ones," said Leibowitz.
A good night, indeed.
Photo by Jonatan Pie courtesy of Unsplash.
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