Sweden’s Dark Winter vs. the Winter Lights


Written by Annamaria

27 Jan 2024

As you may or may not know, when winter comes to Sweden, darkness follows. In a country where the sun sometimes disappears for weeks, especially during the long winter months, other sources of light become really important. As daylight becomes a precious commodity, Swedes adapt by infusing their homes with the warm glow of candles and strategically placing lamps in windows to fight the darkness. Light becomes some sort of symbol of comfort and coziness. It is also common to make magnificent displays and festivals of light, such as the enchanting Winter Lights at Gunnebo Slott.

Visiting the Winter Lights at Gunnebo Slott

I heard about the displays of winter lights in Sweden for some time now, so I decided to explore this concept more. Of course, you can find wonderful Christmas lights across the cities during November and December but the Winter Lights at Gunnebo Slott just seemed more unique. So I decided to check out what the hype is about (with my parents). Wanna join?

A woman in front of a sign pointing towards the entrance for the Winter Lights Exhibition.
Photo: Annamaria

As I walked down the illuminated path, it got me thinking… How come this makes me feel better? And why are winter light displays such a Swedish thing?

An archway tunnel path lit up with winter lights.
Photo: Annamaria

Why are lights so important in Sweden?

From a cultural perspective

Winter lights are not only used to brighten the city or the room but also to bring people a sense of joy and togetherness during the darkest time of the year. Culturally, it’s kind of similar to the Danish “hygge” – a concept centered around creating a warm, inviting atmosphere to promote well-being and contentment. It’s a reminder to slow down, savor moments of warmth and light, and find solace amidst the winter chill.

Winter lights bring a festive glow to Gunnebo Castle after dark as part of the Winter Lights Exhibition.
Gunnebo Slott. Photo: Annamaria

From a health perspective

As a Biomed student, it would just be wrong of me to not consider the health benefits of light. Exposure to light plays a crucial role in combating the effects of negative mood (for us, scientists, seasonal affective disorder (SAD)). It is a type of depression that people sometimes experience during the winter months. Light therapy, whether through natural or artificial sources, can improve the symptoms of SAD by regulating mood and sleep patterns. That’s why we also bought the sunrise alarm. 🌞 (Not sure if I like it yet, I mean, who likes alarms anyway?)

A couple posing happily on a path surrounded by winter lights.
Photo: Annamaria

Make your student life more ‘bright’

For students, who often find themselves (like me) immersed in studies during the wintertime, incorporating more light into the daily routine can be particularly beneficial. Exposure to light enhances focus, alertness, and productivity. It might be just what you need to fight the lethargy and lack of motivation caused by the winter blues. Some ways to brighten your student life include:

  • candles – especially those that smell nice too (I got a nice one from Lidl)
  • the extra lamp that you didn’t know you needed (second-hand stored are a great source of these)
  • walk among the winter lights with friends

So, as the winter darkness comes, let us together illuminate our surroundings with light – not just to brighten the night, but to nourish our souls.

Gif by Annamaria

Written by Annamaria

27 Jan 2024