I used to live in a shared apartment. Just before Christmas, we got a new roommate who came to Finland for a six-month exchange from the Netherlands. She was given a small, furnished room in our apartment, but there were no curtains ready in the room. “How am I supposed to sleep?” she wondered. We reassured our new roommate that there wouldn’t be much sunlight until spring.
Because the Earth is tilted slightly towards the sun, during summers at the North Pole, the sun shines 24 hours a day, and during winters, it doesn’t rise at all. Although Finland is not quite at the North Pole, in northern Finland, there is a kaamos, period of polar night ,during the heart of winter when the sun doesn’t rise at all. During the midsummer celebration, Juhannus, the sun shines even at midnight.
This often raises questions from my foreign acquaintances. “How can you sleep with so much light?” “Doesn’t your internal clock get confused when the length of the day varies all the time?” I cannot say because my internal clock has never experienced anything different.
In November, it’s dark when I go to school, and dark when I come back home. So, if I have a break at noon, I try to go out for a walk and enjoy the little light available. Candles and Christmas lights create a cozy atmosphere in many households throughout the winter season.
In the summer, there is plenty of light. It’s magical to walk home from a party in the middle of the night, with the sun lighting the way for the tired partygoer. When I was a child in Lapland with my family, we once accidentally fished until one in the morning, forgetting to check the time, and the sun didn’t give any hint of the changing day.
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