By Bernd Brunner—Aeon—January 25, 2017—
Winter can mean different things, depending on where you are. It rages most fiercely in the north – in Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska or Canada – and in the extreme south, the Antarctic. In these places, winter is the darkest season. The Norwegian village of Rjukan, tucked away in a steep valley, was shaded from the Sun for close to six months of the year, until its inhabitants began using giant mirrors to direct sunlight into the vale a few years ago.
There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ winter, geographically speaking. But some kind of universal cultural image seems to have grasped the collective imagination in its cold talons. Think snowfalls, swirling ice-storms, Game of Thrones, Disney’s Frozen. What’s the appeal of the idea of an extreme winter? Even in the Arctic, the season isn’t one long blizzard. Because of the dryness of the air, it doesn’t snow very much, though once it falls, it lasts longer than in more temperate climes.