Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve with Aurora

Ice Lanterns for Christmas Eve
So with a small view of the Northern Lights from the previous day, Mariko and I awoke full of energy and vigor...... well maybe not that enthusiastic as it was still early, but we were certainly enjoying ourselves. Once again the morning started with breakfast and talking, but things were starting to quicken as it was Christmas Eve! For those of you who are not aware, Christmas Eve is when the Swedish celebrate Santa's arrival.... not Christmas morning.

Most of our group went out to the reindeer farm to visit with the herder and learn about reindeering. We opted for a nap instead, mainly because we were watching our budget on the trip and we weren't sure if Mariko would be allergic (just the thing to happen on Christmas Eve right?!). Apparently we learned later on though that you can only become a professional Reindeer Herder if your father before you was a Herder.... it is apparently a prestigious and hereditary title.

After our amazing nap we were a little more energized than early that morning, so Mariko and I went for a small walk to the sledding hill and around town. After some sledding on our own... in which I got some cute video of Mariko squeaking her way down:

The local Church
With pink cheeks and cold noses we made our way back to the lodge. It is amazing at how long the day can actually feel when the amount of light during it is so short. Or perhaps it just feels long because we were doing things during most of the "daylight". And when I say daylight I mean the sky is lightened like the sun is about to rise, but it never does. It was actually much brighter than I was expecting it to be. I was expecting Midnight darkness the entire time, but from 10am(ish) to about 3pm(ish) it was as bright as a Colorado overcast winter day.

Back at the lodge we settled down and waited for dinner. Since Christmas Eve is the big Swedish day, our dinner for the evening was quite large. And to my overwhelming delight there was MEAT!!! All our meals up to this point were vegetarian, and though they were tasty I wanted some meat. The meat selection was 3 different forms of Moose- steak, thin bits of meat (think Flank Steak) and a moose gravy with chunks of meat. The taste was similar to beef with a slightly gamier taste.... I was quite happy with it.

After dinner we were lucky enough to have a local Swede play guitar while we all sang Christmas carols. We did most of the traditional English ones with a few variations in Finnish and Swedish. We even sung Silent night 4 languages (Eng, Fin, Swed and Germ).... luckily she supplied us with written words for every song we sung!

After our wonderful singing, during our lounging, one of the helpers at the lodge announce that they saw the Lights outside. In such a rush I ran outside in my regular pants, shirt and slippers... no coat, gloves, hat, ski pants and shoes.... I was excited dang it! There across the road was a bright swatch of green stretching across the sky! It was truly amazing, and put to shame the lights that we had seen the previous night. I had been adjusting my camera setting earlier that night, hoping to catch as much as possible. Here are the better ones (sorry for the blur, I was using Mariko's head to steady the camera):

Seeing this amount of Lights was definitely an amazing experience, and I can see why most of the Christmas songs in Swedish were about the Lights.... it was an emotional experience to see. As the clock ticked down and the Lights slowly faded our Christmas Eve came to a close. It may have ended but it won't be forgotten for Mariko and I... I am sure it will be one of our fondest memories ever.

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