The seasons in Finland, Sweden and Norway are not only about how much to layer up. Above all, they are about experiencing the vast changes in light. Observing a few dozen minutes of faint blue tint in the skyline around New Year’s Eve feels very different from a fully lit midnight riverbed in June.

MUNKEDAL, SWEDEN – PHOTO: PER PIXEL PETERSSON/IMAGEBANK.SWEDEN.SE

In the Arctic regions, from late November to mid-February, it may seem reasonable to consider hibernation during the season’s enduring darkness — it is common to want to spend your free time in more intensified solitude. But that would be a mistake. In the close-knit communities of countries like Finland and Sweden, the quiet and slowly moving winter months give room for people to work on big projects and meet with friends.

LAPLAND, FINLAND – PHOTO: DANIEL ERNST/VISIT FINLAND

During these short periods of light, afternoon coffee meet-ups and late night dancing are balanced by endless indoor sports, visits to the sauna and, for the purists, even frigid winter swimming.

Right before the winter, and right after it — the spring and autumn months — life in the northern regions lingers in an everlasting state of either a bit too cold, or never warm enough. And still not yet quite bright enough.

“THE DAYS STRETCH ENDLESSLY UNDER A MIDNIGHT SUN THAT TOUCHES THE HORIZON BUT NEVER FULLY SETS.”

The most important season is summer. Every other moment throughout the year is just preparation for it. The days stretch endlessly under a midnight sun that touches the horizon but never fully sets. In Svalbard, Norway, the sun doesn’t set between April and August. Places like Swedish Lapland experience a constant glow of light. In the northernmost parts of Finnish Lapland, the sun remains above the horizon for over 70 consecutive days during the summer.

 This is what fuels you through the forthcoming cycle of darkness. Late dinners at the cottage, and relaxing by a lake at 11:00pm under the glow of the sun. The seasons in these Nordic countries are always in flux, moving like the ebb and flow of the tides. After weeks spent in winter twilight, there’s no better feeling than the onset of that summer sun.
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Headline photo of Ribersborgs Beach, Sweden, by Jaque de Villiers/imagebank.sweden.se