Winter Lights

I wish you enough sun so that your days can be good. I wish you enough rain so that you know how to appreciate the sun.

Last night I read this phrase in the book “Kjemp for alt hva du har kjært” (Fight for everything that is dear to you) by H. K. Rohde, who was leading the police of Oslo when the terror attack of summer 2011 happened here. The book is a story of self-development and personal leadership. In Norway there are more than enough rainy days, cloudy skies and darkness – and here you learn to appreciate the sun and the light like in no other place.

Is it really dark here? You, guys, don’t live behind the polar circle and don’t have polar nights – so why winter darkness? Right, we don’t have polar nights and midnight sun like in the Northern Norway. But the days in winter are extremely short. In the darkest period, December-January, the sun rises at 9am and sets around 3pm. So the light day is short, and we spend more hours in darkness than in light. But calling it “light” and “sun” is really optimistic. Because of the low snowy clouds we happen to see the sun once in two weeks – if we are lucky. So the days look more like early evenings. You get up, wait for the light, live some hours through the grayness, and then it is night again. No wonder why winter is called mørketida, “darkness time” in Norway. I am not complaining here, but I feel a need to make this thing clear. I am not new to the cold and long winters, after all I come from Ukraine and Siberia is our neighbor (not really. Though some people believe it when I’m saying:)). My city can have colder winters than Oslo at times – but the light day is longer for a couple of hours. And I feel that difference now. After all, we all feel best with what we grew up with.

Turning to the bright side now. After New year I’ve gotten a new wave of enthusiasm and energy. While in December I felt like going down, the shortening days and hibernating nature resonating in my body – January feels like the way up. It is still as gray and dark as in December – but the turn has been made. It is still light at 15.30, wow! The night starts half an hour later. Internet is full of new year resolutions, 2018 horoscopes and new beginnings. January feels so right for making visions and writing down my dreams and goals. The ancient people were wise connecting their celebrations to the turn of the sun. It gives new hope and new energy.

The Christmas lights have been taken away. I would have them until the end of January – they create a brighter atmosphere in the city. So today I decided to share the pictures from my photo-hunt for the Christmas lights. And if you miss those lights like me – you can find them here! 🙂

Let’s the walk through my neighborhood of Gruneløkka, the hipster part of Oslo, full of small shops and restaurants. They did their best to be cute and cozy in December. As you will see, every (decorated) neighborhood and even some streets have their own signature lights: stars, hearts, arches or bells.

stars of Gruneløkka


Anker bridge

Crossing the Anker bridge, also called Fairytale bridge, because of the four sculptures with figures from Norwegian fairytales, we come to Torggata. It was a once shabby street with kebab shops and Eastern travel agencies but recently it was gentrified and is now a place for cool unique shops and hip brewery bars.

hearts of Torggata
Christmas market on Youngstorget
starry skies

Closer to the centrum Torggata becomes a shopping street, locating chain stores and the biggest bookstore in Norway, Eldorado. Its building was once a cinema with the same name and they kept the entrance dome as it was.

The shops do a great job filling the city with lights. We move on to the renovated Glasmagasinet, a bit more posh department store and then to Øvre Slottsgate which has became home to luxury brands. It also houses the poshest department store (not shopping centre, as they point out) Steen og Strøm.

Øvre Slottsgate
Steen og Strøm
Arches of Øvre Slottsgate

Now – to the main street of Oslo, Karl Johan. December Sundays are full of life here because of Christmas market and skating rink. Also the shops are open on Sundays, which is not usual in Norway. So there are people everywhere, and that saves these dark days. Christmas market has developed a lot since I came to Norway. I had lived a year in Germany and a year in Austria and had missed their cozy markets with handmade goods and Gluhwein. Oslo Christmas market was  dull and empty 10 years ago. But now they moved it to Karl Johan street, at the side of the skating rink, set up a carousel and a huge wheel. There are two big houses where you can buy a food or a drink and enjoy your gløgg (a warm sweet drink with or without alcohol) by the fire (but you are not allowed to take it with you on the street, strict Norwegian rules on alcohol :)). In Germany a glass costs you 2-3 euros and friends meet at the Christmas markets on Saturday night like in a bar. In Oslo a glass costs around 10 euros, so it is not a place to get tipsy :)), and market is more for strolling around or family time. Also you could not hang around for hours here, in the biting cold, like they do in the milder German winter. But I really like the development in Oslo. This city needs lively places like this, especially in this depressing season of darkness.

view of Karl Johan street
lights in motion
kids in motion
Norwegian hygge by the fire
the small houses of the market

Hope, you have enjoyed this walk with me and didn’t get cold 🙂 Do you feel that something has changed with the coming  of the new year?


11 thoughts on “Winter Lights

      • Just two weeks ago I moved inland from Seattle’s coastline about 500 miles to Spokane. It’s closer to the sky – a bit under 3,000 feet – and it gets lots more SUNshine than the gray and rain back home, so it feels lighter. And there’s snowfall here, and sometimes fog all day which makes it dark. So far it’s light!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds nice! Light and sun are so important for the human wellbeing, I find. Sure, you know how to appreciate it now, after those rainy days. Enjoy as much as you can!


    • Karl Johan was a king, not poet :(. He was a Swedish king in the period when Norway went from being under Denmark to Sweden. It is said that he was good for Oslo development as a city. A bit ironic that the main street of the country carries a name of a Swedish king. Thanks for question, I had to ask my local guide and learnt something myself 😆

      Liked by 1 person

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