Posted on January 27, 2014
In some places in northern Norway, the sun hasn't come up for weeks! Today, perhaps, it shone again on a village somewhere for the first time since the beginning of December. And in that village, today will be declared a “Soldag”!
Soldag means “Sun Day.” Never mind that it's Monday! Declaring a Sun Day is like declaring a Snow Day—school is cancelled for the day, many people skip work, and people enjoy the natural beauty of—in this case—sunshine!
All through late January and early February, the sun is making its first appearance in weeks, and people are celebrating its comeback. Aside from taking a day off of school and work, a masked ball is held at night. A “prince of the sun” is chosen to preside over the ball, and when the sun comes up, everyone removes their masks and light fireworks!
(Those of us who live in often-sunny places are always waiting and waiting for the dark in order to shoot off fireworks, so it seems funny to light fireworks when the sun comes up. But it's a celebration!
The Arctic Circle
Did you know that any land that lies between the Arctic Circle and the pole has this sort of perpetual night in the winter and perpetual day in the summer? This is because of the tilt of the Earth as it orbits around the sun.
In the Northern Hemisphere's wintertime, the entire hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, so the days get shorter and shorter until the shortest day of the year, December 21 or 22. Places that lie north of the Arctic Circle have shorter and shorter days until the sun disappears altogether for days or weeks or maybe even months!
As I mentioned, the flip side of having no sun at all for weeks is having 24 hours of sun in the summer. These polar regions are often called “land of the midnight sun” because for days or weeks the sun never sets!
- In some places, there is some light even during the “Polar Night,” when the sun never rises, because the sun is just below the horizon. It's a kind of twilight day! But in other places, farther north, it stays much darker. In those places, the moon can become a very, very bright light in the sky! Check out this great compilation of time-lapse photography during the almost-four-month-long night at Ny-Alesund, an island that is ruled by Norway.
- This video has a lot of misspellings and other errors—I suspect that whoever made it isn't a native English-language speaker. But it shows a more twilight sort of Polar Night, as well as the midnight sun.
Also on this date:
Thomas Crapper Day
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