Endless days, infinite light. And a whole lot of tourists. The first midnight sun of 2014 has reached Norrland. Midnight sun, ”midnattssol” or ”polardag” in Swedish — If you’ve ever witnessed it, you will never forget it.
”It’s pure magic,” says Jenny Engström at Svenska Turistföreningen (the Swedish Tourist Association). The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon, occuring in the summer months in areas north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle, and means the sun remains visible at the local midnight.

Around the summer solstice (approximately June 21 in the northern hemisphere and in the south December 22), the sun is visible for the full 24 hours, if the weather is good. At Norway’s North Cape, known as the northernmost point of Continental Europe, this period extends approximately from May 14 to July 29.


Though pretty to watch, midnight sun can create sleep problems, especially in tourists, but also in natives. For instance, the phenomenon is said to cause hypomania, which means a persisted elevated, irritable mood. The midnight sun is also an issue for those people who observe religious rules based on the 24 hour day/night cycle. In the Jewish community there is a body of law which attempts to deal with adherence to the Mitzvah in such conditions. Another affected religion is Islam, where fasting during daylight hours in Ramadan would imply total abstinence. Also, Muslims have 5 obligatory prayers daily which are timed according to position of the sun, so it becomes difficult for them to decide the prayer times; however, they can follow the timings of the closest place that has a normal sun cycle or the timings of Mecca.

You might have seen the effect of the midnight sun on people in the film ”Insomnia” (both the 1997 Norwegian version and the 2002 American), where the protagonist suffers from insomnia partially brought on by the midnight sun, while investigating a murder. Also, in an episode of ”The Twilight Zone” titled ”The Midnight Sun,” the Earth is on a collision course with the sun, causing a midnight sun effect. The episode of ”Northern Exposure” entitled "Midnight Sun" explores the effects of the phenomenon on the small Alaskan town's residents, and in the Stephen Sondheim musical ”A Little Night Music,” the two Night Waltzes deal specifically with the phenomenon of Midnight Sun.