One of the more minor Norwegian competitions/traditions is seeing who can have the first beer outside each year. There are only a few hard and fast rules:
- You have to drink the beer outside
- You have to drink the beer in Norway…beer in January in Tenerife doesn’t count
I have a strong entry in the competition, having had beer outside in the sun yesterday at Aker Brygge. Even if the beer was overpriced and it wasn’t exactly warm outside, it sure felt better than cold and gray.
Yesterday was actually sunny in Oslo, a true rarity in the wintertime. A fairly regular discussion between my Norwegian fiancée and me goes like this:
Me: I’m so sick of the darkness OR
Me: Holy shit, it was sunny today! It was fantastic!
Her: I just don’t understand why you/foreigners care so much about the weather. You shouldn’t let it dictate your mood.
Me: (Some rationalization about how growing up in Norway makes Norwegians used to the darkness in the winter and how the rest of the planet can’t handle it. Occasionally throw in references to Seasonal Affective Disorder.)
So anyway, yesterday she sent me a link to a Norwegian indie band, My Little Pony.
First of all, they are pretty great; you should check them out. Second, the song “The Sun Turns” proves that at least some Norwegians are also obsessed with the darkness and depressed by it too.
I feel vindicated.
(And February is about a hundred times better than December. It gets dark at a reasonable time now and gets lighter and lighter every day.)
Short version: Not a fan.
For those loyal readers in the Northern Hemisphere, the days have been getting shorter since late June. In a few more days, this trend will reverse and the days will get longer. This event, known as the winter solstice, is much more pronounced the farther north you go in the world. After you cross the Arctic Circle, you get a period known as polar night, where the sun doesn’t come up for several days to several months depending upon how far north you go. Even as latitudes approach the Arctic Circle, however, days get dramatically shorter. Which of course brings me to Oslo.
The Arctic Circle passes through the middle of Norway (click on the map to the right to enlarge), meaning Oslo lies well south of it. Compared to most of the rest of the world, though, Oslo is very far north. In fact, the only major cities as far north as Oslo are Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and Anchorage.
According to wunderground.com, the sun rose at 9:18 this morning and set at 3:07 this afternoon, for a total daylight of 5 hours and 48 minutes. In the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that we also haven’t gotten any sunlight at all. I don’t know whether this is typical for the few weeks right around the winter solstice or if we have just happened to have had really bad weather. I’ll try to remember to post about it next year and if any readers have an idea, post it in the comments.
Either way, the lack of sunlight and minimal daylight is pretty terrible. I have heard the opposite version of this during the summer is amazing though. If you’re curious, I took a few pictures (after the jump).
Posted in cultural differences
Tagged anchorage, arctic circle, daylight, helsinki, north, northern hemisphere, oslo, pictures, polar night, short days, st. petersburg, stockholm, sunlight, weather, winter solstice, wunderground.com