Sweden – a land of extreme light and darkness – and Ramadan

Yesterday at 11.13am, Sweden had its summer solstice. From that point in time, the days will get shorter, minute by minute. Until we are tipped into November’s total gloom.

It’s at times like this that I long for the even days and nights in Africa. There is only an hour or two difference between sunrise and sunset times in midsummer and midwinter. There are also tides! The widely swinging extremes of light and dark so close to the North Pole can affect mood and metabolism both summer and winter.

Light nights drive me crazy. I just cannot sleep when it is light enough to read outside at midnight. It feels like you are being punished when you go to bed and the sun is beating down on you in your bed.

We have triple glazed bedroom windows with venetian blinds between the panes of glass, blackout curtains AND a blackout blind and I can STILL see the sun! This photo was taken at 10.30pm a year or so ago.



On really bad nights I wear a light sweat-absorbent sleep mask from Siden Selma, when it is really light. These masks are the only ones I have used long term as they are so light and cool.

Stockholm is fairly dark in summer as Sweden goes, because we are pretty far south of a long long country. Within the Arctic Circle things are much worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). The sun does not set for months in summer, and does not rise for months in winter.

It is even worse for Muslims in Sweden, particularly in the north, if Ramadan falls in summer. The fast can last 22 hours a day during Ramadan.

Different Muslim communities have different ways of dealing with it though. Some follow Mecca time when deciding times to fast. Others follow the dawn and dusk times for Southern Europe. Others follow the times there was last dawn and dusk where they live. There is a movement at the moment to provide EU-wide rules for how Ramadan is observed in countries where it does not get dark.

The great picture was taken by Jael Xandry, exactly at midnight.
The great picture was taken by Jael Xandry, exactly at midnight in the middle of summer
This photo taken at exactly midday in the middle of winter by Isak From
This photo taken at exactly midday in the middle of winter by Isak From
10pm in May
11pm in  June – two weeks to midsummer
10am in November
11am in November – one month to midwinter

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

7 thoughts

  1. Wow these pictures are lovely. I’ve always wondered what it’s like in places where there are such extremes. I suppose it would be eerie for someone who’s just visiting.

  2. We don’t get such extremes here, other than in Scotland, but I always notice at this time of year that looking North, the sky is never fully dark – there’s always a little chink of light there 🙂

  3. What extremes! I love the pic of the caribou? crossing the road. I wonder if people native-born to the area have the same light/dark problems or if it affects everyone.

  4. So crazy! It’s something I’d love to experience, but I don’t think I could live like that! I would have trouble sleeping in the summer, and I wouldn’t want to do anything in the winter!

    1. That’s what happens to me! My worst is summer as it never gets dark and I just cannot sleep. The best time of year is when it starts to get dark again!

  5. Oh gosh, what extremes of light and dark. On the other hand in the tropics it’s sunset & sunrise at 6pm/6am every day of the year – I don’t think I’d like that either.

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