Kaamos: the Polar Night in Finland

24 hours of darkness. Something that is impossible to imagine for most people in the world. But it happens every year in Finland, and people that go traveling to Finland during the winter will experience it. I never really had to face Kaamos, the Polar Night of Finland, but I did have to face lots of nighttime per day, which was very unusual for me.

Plants under the Polar Night
Finnish flora during the moment with most light of the Kaamos. Source (CC: by).

Polar Night: the longest night

The weeks around the winter solstice, 21st of December, are objectively the darkest time of the year. The days – the time with daylight – are short. Furthermore, before Christmas time, it is quite possible that the snow didn’t fall yet: The streets don’t reflect the light, which makes everything seem even darker.

I remember my first days with only a few hour of daylight in Finland, when I used to count the hours of light per day. I woke up and it was dark. I took my bike to go to the center and the sun started to rise slowly. Later on, at 15h or so, it was night again. 5 hours of daylight per day in the Joensuu winter.

Anyway, we were lucky: We were in Central Finland and, being Spanish as I am, 24 hours of nighttime would have been too much. Pretty nice as an experience of a couple of days, but bad to live it like that for a whole winter or more.

But that’s business as usual in the North of Finland: They have the Polar Night and the Kaamos if they live above the Arctic Circle line. And a lot of nighttime if they live below.

Kaamos in Finland
The Kaamos – the Polar Night – seen from a Finnish cottage (a mökki). Source (CC: by).

The Kaamos

The Kaamos, also known as the Polar Night, is the time of the year where there are at least 24 consecutive hours of darkness. Kaamos can be long in the North of Finland (up to two months), and brief – just a day – when staying on the Arctic Circle line.

Why is the Arctic Circle so important for the duration of the Kaamos? Because this imaginary line marks the place where the sun won’t rise at least one day a year, and won’t set at least for one day a year. In summer this phenomena is called Midnight Sun (24 consecutive hours seeing the sun), and the Polar Night is just its opposite.

Kaamos in the North of Finlandia
A Finnish road during the Kaamos time of the year. Source (CC: by-sa).

But the fact that it is dark for at least 24 hours doesn’t mean that the sky is always black. Around noon there is a twilight – the clarity in the sky before the sun rises – with the particularity that the sun never actually rises. In this moment a magical shade of blue takes over, and – especially if everything is covered in snow – everything seems to glow with a blue color. A brief, true blue world.

Also, during the Kaamos and the cold weather, in the North of Finland you get to see a lot of Northern Lights. It truly is a great time to visit Finland.

Finnish village during the Polar Night time
This Finnish village doesn’t see more clarity than this during the Polar Nights of the winter. Source (CC: by).

Have you been so lucky to see the Polar Night? What did you feel during the brief moment of clarity of the Kaamos?

I’ve been writing about Finland for 8 years. In these articles I am trying to transmit my passion for Finland, its marvelous nature and cities, its people and the culture of the country. Thanks for reading!