Finland is not north enough; we need to go to the North of the North.
My family has always spent Christmastime in Lapland in Northern Finland. We love the northern quietness, darkness, peacefulness, snowiness…
When I was little, we didn’t go to Lapland just to get a white Christmas. There used to be snow in the South as well, now black Christmases are reality. Sad reason: climate change. In northern latitudes warming is predicted to be even more intense than on a global scale. In Finland, average annual temperatures are projected to rise 2-6◦C by the end of the century. That warming will affect winters more than summers.
Seriously, we still don’t have snow in the South – it is mid-January for heaven’s sake!
So, to enjoy the snow, skiing, and cold weather we need to travel north. This year we went to Ylläsjärvi. I have written about Christmastime in the area once before, and that post presents lovely colourful pictures. Indeed, the magical winter sky is one of my favourite things about Christmas.
However, the past three Christmases/New Years in Lapland have been cloudy. Overcast. You can’t see stars, northern lights, or the colours of the sun when it tries to climb above the horizon. Days are much darker.
Sadly, as the global temperatures rise, the winters in the North are predicted to become even cloudier. This year we had two and half clear days. We spent ten days in Lapland. However, I admit that those few clear days were fantastic. I even managed to take a couple of poor photos of vague northern lights when the temperature dropped and the sky cleared.
Now, the daily skiing trips in nature surrounded by snow and lazy evenings in our cozy cottage are refreshing and relaxing cloudy or not. But they are different.
The winters are changing. It is frustrating that we have to go that far to find snow and it is frustrating that even with snow the days might be gloomy. But it is not nature’s fault.
I suppose we have to be more patient and try to cherish those short clear days when we get them.
Having said all this, next year might completely surprise us – you never know.
Jylhä, K., Fronzek, S., Tuomenvirta, H., Carter, T.R. and Ruosteenoja, K., 2008. Changes in frost, snow and Baltic sea ice by the end of the twenty-first century based on climate model projections for Europe. Climatic Change, 86(3-4), pp.441-462.
Jylhä, K., Tuomenvirta, H. & Ruosteenoja, K. 2004: Climate change projections for Finland during the 21st century. Boreal Env. Res. 9: 127–152.
Jylhä, K., Ruosteenoja, K., Räisänen, J., Venaäläinen, A., Tuomenvirta, H., Ruokolainen, L., and Seitola, T., 2009. Arvioita Suomen muuttuvasta ilmastosta sopeutumistutkimuksia varten, ACCLIM–hankkeen raportti 2009 [The changing climate in Finland: estimates for adaptation studies. ACCLIM project report 2009]. Ilmatieteen laitos [Finnish Meteorological Institute]. [Online]. [Accessed 2 March 2019]. Available from: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/14910522.pdf
Mäkelä, A., Lehtonen, I., Ruosteenoja, K., Jylhä, K., Tuomenvirta, H., and Drebs, A., 2016. Ilmastonmuutos pääkaupunkiseudulla [Climate change in the capital area of Finland]. Ilmatieteenlaitos [Finnish Meteorological Institute]. [Online]. [Accessed 2 March 2019]. Available from: https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/170155/PKS_ilmastonmuutos.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y