Chasing Light in the Dark: Winter Traditions from Greenland to Antarctica

Chasing Light. Alright, imagine those long winter evenings when it feels like the sun waved goodbye right after lunch. I’m transported back to this crazy experience I had during the polar night on a tiny island off Greenland a couple of winters back. Let me take you on a trip from the top of the world to the chilly corners of the globe.

Polar Night Chronicles in Greenland

So, I got this email inviting me to work in an artist’s “refuge” on a rock in the Upernavik archipelago. Sounds cool, right? Here’s the catch – from late November to January, they zero sun. Zilch. Nada. The locals call it the polar night. The museum director gave me a choice: summer or winter. I went for winter. Embracing the darkness taught me a thing or two about finding silver linings in the gloom.

Light Vibes and Islander Wisdom

As I got used to the whole no-sun deal, I started appreciating the little sparks of light around me. Constellations, the changing moon, and even the glow from a neighbor’s window – they became my companions in the dark. But it not all solitary. The islanders knew how to throw a party, making the never-ending night feel like a continuous celebration. From simple rituals like making porridge to the social coffee-fueled gatherings, the islander way of life a lesson in finding joy in the everyday.

Distinct Nights in Iceland and the Dance of the Northern Lights

Jumping over to Iceland, where nights and days do their own thing. Here, winter comes with its own bag of tricks. While indoor reading and writing are go-to pastimes, the real show happens outdoors. Picture this: the northern lights, those shimmering ribbons of magic in the night sky. They’re like nature’s disco lights, painting the darkness with a dash of wonder. People say they’re traces left by elves – or “hidden people” – having a grand ol’ time in the sky. Who knew the dark could be so enchanting?

Fortune-Telling Fun and Lead Pouring Parties


As the new year knocks on the door, it’s time for some quirky traditions. Ever heard of lead pouring, or molybdomancy? You melt some metal – nowadays, it’s usually tin or wax – and pour it into cold water. The shapes it makes are like your personal crystal ball, predicting the future. It’s a bit like a DIY fortune-telling party. Some call it a German thing, but Finland’s got its own version call tinanvalanta. It’s like predicting the future with a side of DIY metal art.