Halfway Around the Globe, These Locals Live in Total Darkness


| LAST UPDATE 11/14/2022

By Amie Alfaro
Polar Night Svalbard Norway
Erland Grøtberg via Getty Images

It is called the Polar Night. A time of year when the sun never rises above the horizon in the Arctic, keeping people in the dark around the clock. This happens on Svalbard, an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. The residents of these islands have embraced the Polar Night, so how exactly do they live and stay content in the darkness?

The Polar Night lasts for around two months, leaving the islands in total darkness. For the 2,500 people who call Svalbard home, they do not mind at all. In fact, they look forward to it. In order to deal with the darkness, headlamps are a wardrobe essential. Residents also carry flare guns and actual guns around with them to ward off polar bears. How do they keep themselves busy? Easy, life goes on as usual. Additionally, the winter activities are part of the draw to living on Svalbard. From skiing and snowboarding to cozy movie nights to watching the northern lights dance above, there are plenty of ways that the residents keep themselves occupied during this fascinating time. 

Swedish tiktoker northern lights
@sejsejlija via Instagram
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One resident has been showing the rest of the world what it is like to live on the island. That resident is TikToker Cecili Blomdahl. In her videos, she talks about the various customs and rules of the community and how daily life operates in the Arctic. She describes how year-round doctors recommend them to take Vitamin D, how cats are prohibited as pets because they can harm the local fauna and wildlife, and shows her followers how her toilet operates. Hint, it does not work the way standard plumbing does. Researcher Kari Leibowitz told NPR, “There’s a lot of candles, soft lighting, cozy blankets, drinking tea, gathering around fire and sort of being with your loved ones in this sort of calm, peaceful, cozy way.” Instead of focusing on the lack of sun, residents focus on the cozy spirit and the winter activities that accompany the Polar Night.

@sejsejlija How is polar night possible?! #svalbard #polarnight #longyearbyen ♬ Get You The Moon - Kina

Svalbard offers an entirely different way of life, and there is beauty in that. Even if the sun is not seen for 4 months of the year, everyone continues to find a way to keep living and thriving. (Not to mention, this isn't the only time our planet was void of light.) Who is ready to put on a scarf, hat, and gloves and head to Svalbard?

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