Here comes the sun …
Nobody said it better than The Beatles. The sun, so common to most of us that we never consider its presence. But imagine: several months in “total darkness”, a seemingly never-ending night, only accompanied by snow, ice and arctic winds. And then, when the sun finally appears, the time for celebration has come. Or as the Longyearbyen people call: Solfestuka.
Solfestuka is a tradition where they celebrate the return of the sun. Every year, in the week of 8th March they organise exhibitions, musical performances (this year there was Taliban Airways, Dumdum Boys …), special activities for children, a solquiz and solgames. Climaxing with the actual welcoming of the sun around the 8th of March. After months of darkness and polar night the sun chases away the winterblues, bringing new life and joy. From now on days grow longer until the midnight sun appears.
The welcoming-ritual was hosted by a young woman (maybe a teacher) and a boy. During the ceremony a woman in tradional clothing told us about the Svalbard tradition and the meaning of Solfestuka. A local children’s choir livened up the presentation with sun-related songs and they presented the award to the winner of the “Soltegninger”. This Soltegninger is the winning drawing from a competition where children get to design the offical festival logo. Quite important and a bit intimidating when you’re called forward, surrounded by locals and tourists armed with cameras :).
Was if fun? Yes! We love attending such events while traveling. They tell us more about the local culture and the inhabitants. And never once did we feel like tourists, as we were welcomed with open arms and we were part of the celebration.