This Month, Greenlanders Welcome The Sun After It's Been Gone For 58 Days : Goats and Soda The people in a tiny town in Greenland manage to stay (reasonably) happy even without the sun. But they're sure glad to have it back.

In The Arctic Circle, The Sun Will Come Up After 58 Tomorrows

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Above the Arctic Circle, the sun is coming up. And that's something that doesn't happen every day. This is the time of the year when the sun rises for the first time in months. Reporter Rebecca Hersher visited a town in Greenland to find out what that moment means.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Only 398 people live in the town of Ittoqqortoormiit. Every year, they spend about 58 days without the sun. When I arrived, the darkness didn't take long to get to me.

All right, it's really cold and very dark. I've been here two days, and I can't wait for it to come up. It's like 3 o'clock, but it seems like the only thing to do is eat dinner (laughter).

For locals, the dark months have their charm. One of them, Mette Barselajsen, seemed surprised I kept bringing up the darkness.

HERSHER: Are their tricks, though, for keeping yourself happy when it's so dark?

METTE BARSELAJSEN: Some people - I haven't seen them, but I heard you can buy lamp, not big lamp, like...

HERSHER: It takes me a few seconds, but I realize she's talking about sunlamps.

BARSELAJSEN: Locally, we will not have it (laughter). It would be like - why should we stare at it (laughter)?

HERSHER: It seems a little silly?

BARSELAJSEN: Yeah because we don't need that.

HERSHER: Instead of sunlamps and vitamin D pills, people just try to do things for fun. They drink, play cards, do dangerous stuff on their snowmobiles.

One morning, 60-year-old Isak Pike is taking me out dogsledding. Sunrise is still a few days away. The dogs are ready to run.


HERSHER: Pike hunts seals, walrus, polar bears, everything.


HERSHER: As soon as we take off over the pack ice, he's smiling. It's not pitch black outside. There is a faint red light over the mountains. The moon is pink. For a moment, I almost don't miss the sun.


HERSHER: And then a few days later, it's the big day, the first sunrise in 58 days. The mood in town is like a minor holiday. Just before noon, all the kids put on their snowsuits and mittens and climb up a hill and then...

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

HERSHER: ...They gather in a circle and sing a song for the sun, even though it's so cloudy you can't even see the horizon.

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

HERSHER: They sing welcome back, my dear friend. Welcome back the sun.

For NPR News, I'm Rebecca Hersher.

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

SIEGEL: Rebecca Hersher is reporting from Greenland on an NPR Above the Fray Fellowship, which is sponsored by the John Alexander Project.

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