Midsummer loomed as chilly celebration

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State meteorologists were warning that Norwegians once again faced a wet and chilly Midsummer Eve on Tuesday, also known as Sankthansaften in Norway. They advised that those planning to gather around a traditional bonfire should bundle up and be prepared for rain and wind, especially in the Oslo area.

Midsummer celebrants would attempt to light bonfires along the coast Tuesday night, despite forecasts of rain. In Oslo, bonfires (called a "bål" in Norwegian) were due to be lit behind the Opera House at Bjørvika and at Tjuvholmen. Others were planned, along with various entertainment, at Høvikodden in Bærum, at Nordstrand and many other spots along the fjord. The Folk Museum on Bygdøy was also staying open until 9pm with various Midsummer events planned. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Midsummer celebrants would attempt to light bonfires like this one along the coast Tuesday night, despite forecasts of rain. In Oslo, bonfires (called a “bål” in Norwegian) were due to be lit behind the Opera House at Bjørvika and at Tjuvholmen. Others were planned, along with various entertainment, at Høvikodden in Bærum, at Nordstrand and many other spots along the fjord. The Folk Museum on Bygdøy was also staying open until 9pm with various Midsummer events planned. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The summer solstice actually occurred on Sunday, but it’s on the evening of June 23 that many Norwegians gather around bonfires set up along the fjord as the days slowly but surely start getting shorter again. Even though the summer holiday season is just beginning, the date marks the middle of the six months known as sommerhalvåret (the summer half of the year), that runs from March to September.

If the weather forecasters prove correct, outdoor celebrants would need to defy the elements again this year. Midsummer Eve has a tendency to be plagued by bad weather, just when Scandinavians yearn to be out all night at what’s supposed to be the lightest time of the year. The days instead have been unseasonably dark recently, with heavy storm clouds, thunder and pouring rain and dramatically shifting temperatures.

Disappointment loomed again Tuesday evening: “There aren’t any great possibilities for sunshine,” Nina Larsgård of the state Meteorological Institute told newspaper Aftenposten. She predicted showers in the late afternoon and throughout the evening, and temperatures no higher than 18C (66F).

Thermometers were expected dip even further on Wednesday, which is a holiday in neighbouring Sweden but not in Norway except for selected areas. There may be more sunshine in southern Norway, including the Agder counties and western Telemark, but temperatures weren’t due to rise above 17C  and may fall to around 15C in Oslo by Friday. The near constant showers of the past week may ease next week, but the weather isn’t expected to get much warmer.

Meteorolgist Espen Biseth Granan blamed the chilly summer so far on “large circulation patterns that are pulling cold air south from the Arctic.” Temperatures in the water are also cold, checking in at just 15C at the otherwise popular Huk beach on Oslo’s Bygdøy peninsula. Only the most determined swimmers are diving in.

Meanwhile, the locals could console themselves with the fact that the sun did in fact rise in southern Norway at 3:54am on Tuesday and would be up for 18 hours and 49 minutes, while Norwegians up north could enjoy their Midnight Sun. When it’s not raining.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund