Tag Archives: Advent

BRIGHTER, BUT BIZARRE, HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Advent in Longyearbyen starts w/ letters, lights, lyrics – and looney laws

An idyllic snowy, yet mild and mostly windless, first Sunday of Advent in the world’s northernmost town was full of traditional celebrations to mark the start of the holiday season – but as with so much this year there were some peculiar and sometimes mystifying differences.

But, in what might be called a gift, not all were sickly and/due to The Curse That Shall Not Be Named (at least near the top of this festive feature).

SIMPLY ENLIGHTENING: A few white bulbs and lots of singing are plenty enough to bring a glow to Longyearbyen residents during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony


A spartan strand of plain white lights illuminated a few boughs on what in the 24-hour dark of polar night might pass for a tall bit of shrubbery…and there was much rejoicing. A few moments later a second strand of lights brought a glow revealing the fuller outlines of an evergreen…and there was much rejoicing. Shortly after the third and final set of plain white lights let the townfolk of Longyearbyen know this was as turned on as this year’s official Christmas tree was going to get.

And there was much rejoicing.

“It’s so simple to find satisfaction here,” a woman remarked to a companion, both of whom were wearing reflective vests for the new Svalbard Folk High School that welcomed its first students a few months ago.

ROAST BEAST: The Grinch tried his tyranny in Longyearbyen this year. It didn’t go well. (UPDATE: Just wow…it really was sabotage)


Skipping past his tiny heart and large theft, including sabotaging the town’s Christmas tree (FOR REAL, it turns out – see update at end)…

Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any lights at all!

‘I’ve been good’ – Santa’s workshop gets usual requests, along with a few special orders such as a hamster from Syria


A red balloon. Legos. Star Wars gadgets. A Playstation 4. A Ferrari.

A typical range of innocent to exorbitant wish list items, including some that conveniently overlap (“Lego Star Wars” for Playstation). Along with under-the-tree presents that are normal here but in few other places like sleds designed to be towed by snowmobiles.