Winter still feels like it will be a long time leaving, but the dark times are over in Norway. Living in Oslo this winter, the darkness was less dramatic with short days just a couple hours shorter than winter days in New York. But in the north, the return of the sun is both noticed and celebrated.
From what I understand, the holiday "Soldagen" can vary date-wise for different places, depending on how far north and how many mountains are around, but it is literally marking the appearance of the sun over the horizon, generally around the end of January. It is actually a noted holiday in the north - children have the day off from school and families bake special cakes/pastries for the sun's return. After Soldagen, it becomes more and more comfortable to drink the midday coffee outside and layers can be lessened on the ski trails - the sun directly warming you even while air temperatures remain below freezing.
It's interesting to me that this drastic, recurring phenomena of dark and light times remains so interwoven with the culture. Living here, I've also found a much greater recognition of and appreciation for the sun - never mind the vital need for Vitamin D in the winter months. It's nice to stop for a minute and remember that natural cycles impact us significantly - even when we inhabit cities and overlook the subtleties of season change.
Slightly cheating, this is still from my Copenhagen photos, one of many communal spaces I visited and have yet to write about. When the clouds lift in Oslo I'll get my camera out once again.