Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Summer Solstice vs. Winter Solstice – WHO YA GOT????




As we’ve mentioned, folks out here are much more aware of the seasons and of nature than we were used to from the States.  Now that we’ve experienced both, I figured it was a good time to figure out which one was better.  In the spirit of the NFL playoffs, I decided to break it down “game preview style” (bill simmons style, basically)

In case you aren’t familiar, up here in the northlands, the sun is a fickle mistress. In the summer, the sun rises at 3:31 and “sets” at 10:08pm (18h, 37m and 12s). Compare this to the winter, when the sun is only “up” from 8:44 to 2:48 – 6h, 4m and 44s.  And yes, “sets” and “up” are in quotations because neither one actually happens….

Now that you are familiar, on to the breakdown!

Preseason Expectations –   If you asked me a year ago, this would have been easy.  I was SUPER hyped for constant sunlight and thought that I would go into a severe depression in December.  We had a bunch of friends visit us in the summertime, but shockingly, not too many folks asked about our availability in the dead of winter.

Advantage - SUMMER

General Mood – The biggest holiday of the year here is the summer solstice in mid-June. It’s like 4th of July at home, except WAY more pagan – which is a good thing.  Everyone goes to their summer homes, grills out, takes their boats on the archipelago and drinks “snaps”.  Also, month long vacation starts in July, so everyone is in a pretty good mood.

The winter solstice would be super depressing if it wasn’t for Christmas (tangential rumor I heard is that this why the Church made Christmas right around Solstice – so that it would be a new beginning and the world came out of darkness).  Luckily, Christmas here is really great, so for the last month with the most darkness, people are distracted by all the pretty lights and good cheer.

This year we got lucky and it was already snowing a lot by Solstice, which made it a lot brighter.  If that wasn’t there though, it would have been REALLY dark and depressing. 

Due to the Christmas season, I am tempted to make this a draw – but Swedes become pretty reserved during this season, so I’m going to go with:

Advantage - SUMMER

Day-After Feeling – This might be the easiest one.  One June 22nd this year, I could almost feel the darkness enveloping me.  I knew it was going to get darker, and darker, and darker each day.  Really killed my “snaps” buzz. 

On the flip side, on Dec 22, I felt like it was noticeably brighter and that we had weathered the worst of the year.  Also, it was basically Christmas.

Advantage - WINTER

Sleep Schedule – Luckily Calvin is a great sleeper, because I was really nervous that he wouldn’t be able to sleep at all in constant daylight.  And it was really weird putting him down to sleep when we had 3+ hours of BRIGHT sunlight left in the day.  He did generally get up earlier than normal – 5 o’clock hour almost every day of my July vacation, rather than the normal 630-7ish. Lis had to resort to eyeshades at night, and we both became basically sleep-deprived a bit.

Winter is obviously fantastic for sleeping – you don’t need to worry about the sun waking you up for a solid 3-4 months.  So that’s a big win….

Advantage - WINTER

Uniqueness / Weirdness – The darkness is tough because it is so short, but it’s not THAT much shorter than what we dealt with growing up in the northeast. 

The summer though is NUTS.  It is completely odd to have it be twilight-ish coming back from the bars at 2am, or to have the sun wake you up at 5.  Definitely the more unique of the solstices.

Advantage - SUMMER

Tools Needed to Adapt

Summer – Night shades (making me feel like a pampered, rich elderly lady,  blackout curtains (sold in stores and do their best to block out the sun)

Winter – stars to put in your window (“Christmas” tradition that we are keeping up year round), candles (placed outside doors of stores or homes to welcome you inside), self tanning bulbs (we don’t have these, but lis does have a valentines gift coming up soon), vitamin D supplements (for Calvin, but if we siphon off a bit that’s not a bad thing right?)

Advantage – WINTER (Calvin LOOOOVES the star and would be upset if it lost)

Drinking Ability – This is the most difficult area to score.

On one hand, everyone knows that “day drinking” is always the best kind of party.  It’s usually done at a ballgame, tailgate, beach, bbq, etc.  Always a great time.  During summer solstice though, it’s 24 hr day drinking time!  As I alluded to before, even if you are walking your way back home in the late night / early morning (I did this once, but it makes me feel tough to keep bringing it up), its still daylight.  Your energy to keep rockin’ out is unmatched. 

On the flip side, having 20hrs of darkness means that you can ACTUALLY drink during the day and not feel like a degenerate.  Get home on Saturday and get the party started, it’s pitch black out! Granted, its 3pm, but STILL – it’s dark out.  Also, Lis and I had dinner reservations at 5pm one night when the Dwyers were in town to babysit.  Because it had been dark for 2 hours already, it didn’t even feel like it was “too early” for us to sit down.  So that’s nice.

Basically, this comes down to whether is more fun to party in the sunlight, or party during the day.  Not a distinction I’ve ever had to make before, but in this case, I have to go with…

Advantage:  SUMMER

Overall Winner -  So there you have it – by a score of 4-3, (based on my drinking preference evidently), the best solstice of the year is found in the SUMMER

Congratulations to the winning solstice, they truly deserve their victory.

Now to get ready for the Patriot and Falcons games this weekend!!!

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