Dwindling Daylight: Norway’s Polar Nights

Polar nights in Norway, Aurora Borealis, northern lights

Where cozy solitude and nature's spectacle meet. Image: Shutterstock/ Yevhenii Chulovskyi

AS daylight fades and darkness descends, polar nights have taken over parts of Norway. At its brightest, it resembles twilight before plunging once more into complete darkness. Could you live without the sun, without daylight?

Spanning from approximately November until late January this natural phenomenon shapes life in the northern regions.

What are Norway’s Polar Nights?

The polar nights, known as ‘mørketid’ in Norwegian, occur when certain parts north of the Arctic Circle experience virtual continuous darkness for approximately six to seven weeks. This phenomenon results from the tilt of the earth’s axis, causing these areas to be devoid of direct sunlight during part of winter.

While this endless night may sound ominous for some, it can be rather beautiful. At peak daylight, from around 11 am to 1:45 pm approximately, those few hours cast a light that is similar to a fading sunset which then dims to a glowing blue hue.

There are many different types of polar nights each with its own type of ‘daylight’. From the Civil Polar Night to the Nautical Polar Night and finally the Astronomical Polar Night.

Image: Wikipedia/Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

Adapting to Life in Darkness

Many Norwegians report that there is enough light to go about their day-to-day business. People adapt to this life and go about life as normal. They rise very early and finish their working day around 3 pm. They try to stay active with the gyms reportedly always full. In the evenings they spend a lot of time playing board games together as a family and drinking hot drinks. They also take nice walks when the temperature permits to enjoy the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis. Once the light starts to return around January 21 they go skiing when they can.

Advantages of Polar Nights

One of the main advantages that we mentioned above is the visibility of the Northern Lights. The continuous darkness increases the possibility of viewing the spellbinding Aurora Borealis. A lot of Norwegians recommend this time of year as the perfect time to travel to Norway to view this natural phenomenon and also to experience the polar nights.

Another advantage is the cozy atmosphere that is created by the extended darkness, encouraging cozy indoor activities and social gatherings.

The Danish and the Norwegians sum it up perfectly with their expression ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-guh). It describes a feeling of coziness, contentment, and comfort. It is a cultural concept deeply ingrained in Scandinavian life.

Hygge is more than a word it represents a lifestyle, an atmosphere, or a mood that promotes well-being and happiness. It revolves around creating a warm, inviting atmosphere and cherishing simple pleasures.

Hygge a cozy concept.Image: Shutterstock/New Africa

Challenges and Disadvantages of Polar Nights

There are some challenges associated with the lack of daylight like the psychological impact it can have, sometimes leading to depression, especially for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

There are also some logistical issues faced due to reduced daylight hours, affecting productivity, outdoor work, and certain daily activities. The polar nights also have a profound effect on the body’s circadian rhythms. Polar nights can disturb sleep patterns with Norwegians also reporting that they certainly sleep more during this period of winter. This can also affect a person’s overall health.

Norway’s polar nights are captivating yet challenging shaping the lifestyle and experiences of its residents. Despite the hardships posed by extended darkness, Norwegians have adapted and found unique ways to embrace this natural occurrence.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!