Lots of bitch, piss, and moan out there concerning Daylight Saving Time, much rejoicing over the vote in the Senate to make DST a year-round thing. My feeling on this burning issue amounts to basically: Meh. I don’t mind the early sunsets in winter; in fact, preferring winter over summer as I always have, I kinda enjoy ’em, honestly. But those of you out there kvetching and kvelling about how put out you are by the imposition and injustice of having to adjust the clocks twice a year, I suggest a trip to Finland in winter for some useful perspective. Consider:
Average Temperatures (December): High: 1C/33F Low: -4C/24F Sunrise and Sunset on December 21: 9:24am and 3:13pm
Don’t tell me, let me guess: you’re hating the place already, amIright? Well, hold onto your hats, because the farther north you go, the wilder it gets.
Average Temperatures (December): High: -5C/23F Low: -13C/9F Sunrise and Sunset on December 21: 10:49am and 3:50pm
Hrmmm, a whole five hours of daylight? No wonder the Finns tend to drink to remarkable excess in wintertime. First time the band played there, I remember being absolutely floored by the Finnish people’s staggering capacity to lapup the joy-juice. But wait, we aren’t done just yet.
Average Temperatures (December): High: -8C/17F Low: -17C/1F Sunrise and Sunset on December 21: the sun doesn’t rise
See that? NO SUN at all. It’s that way on more than just the one December day, too.
What seemed weirder to me, though, was the summertime reversal of the sunrise/sunset craziness. For instance, in Helsinki last June 19th—generally speaking, the longest day in most countries is in June—sunset was at 3:53 AM, and sunset was at 10:49 that night, clocking in at 19 hours of daylight! When I’ve been there in summer, the crazy-long day messes with your internal clock, making it damned near impossible to get to sleep. From my own observation, most of the Finns didn’t bother to even try; they just stayed up and kept the party going until they fell over and slept wherever they landed. It was great fun, I assure you. Remember also that Helsinki is in the southern region of the country, making it one of the more moderate locales when it comes to both temperatures and sunrise/sunset times.
If you’re considering a trip to Finland, don’t let the appallingly radical swings in the sunsets and sunrises there dissuade you. Finland is a lovely and interesting country, her people a bit on the shy side for sure, but all of them decent, good-hearted folks nonetheless. The cuisine isn’t what I’d call outstanding, merely okay—dull, maybe, but certainly MUCH better than England. I love the place myself, always had a rockin’ good time over there. There’s more to life than just sunrise and sunset, after all.