The sun has not made an appearance over Tromsø since November 27th. After almost two months in the dark, preparations for the return of Icarus' rays are no small matter for residents of the city.
While both workplaces and kindergartens celebrate the expected breaking of sunlight over the horizon on January 21st, the city's bakeries have found themselves working overtime.
Bakery Nord-Norge, for example, is producing 40,000 of the so-called ‘sun-cakes' that are traditionally eaten on the day, reports broadcaster NRK.
“There are 35 of us working. It's a bit stressful, but rather pleasant,” line manager Hege Norø told NRK.
Norø said that 300 kilogrammes of raspberries and 400 litres of egg had been used to make the cakes, which also contain cardamom.
“I don't know where the tradition comes from, but we've always eaten sun-cakes on sun day,” Kristian Wiik, the baker's logistics manager, told NRK.
Bakery employee Edwin Nacarro told the broadcaster that he associated the cakes and the return of the sun with a sense of optimism.
“It means that summer is on its way,” Nacarro said. “I can see how happy people are when the sun comes back,” he said.
Although the city's inhabitants celebrated the end of the polar night in grand style – the sun's reappearance was even live-streamed online – academics have suggested that people living in extreme northern regions in Tromsø may be better equipped to cope with the physical and mental challenges posed by long, dark winters. The trick, it seems, is to altering their perception, using a so-called wintertime mindset to see the cold temperatures and short days as a challenge.
These altered mindsets then function as coping mechanisms, helping protect individuals against the risk of conditions such as seasonal affective disorder.
While Tromsø on Thursday could mark the end of its annual dark season, the nearly 3,000 people of the Arctic archipelago Svalbard will still have to wait nearly an additional month. Longyearbyen won't see the sun until February 16th.