2012: The Year of Fox Fire in Finland

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The Finnish word for the northern lights, or aurora borealis, is ‘revontulet’, meaning fox fire. This originates from an old folk tale in which an arctic fox started fires by running through the snow covered landscapes, its bushy tail throwing sparks up into the sky. I love this story, and choose to recount it whenever people ask me what the northern lights are. Apparently some people, on the other hand, hold a different belief. One whereby the phenomenon of the aurora borealis is caused by charged particles colliding with atoms in the atmosphere, which are then moved by the Earth’s magnetic field. The resulting energy and light, they insist, causes us to see the wavering colourful lights. Hmmm… Fire foxes for me. 

The awe-inspiring natural show is different every time, with colors varying from blue, green, purple, yellow, and red. The changes in colours and shapes create a truly magical effect that should be a must on any travel enthusiasts bucket list. It is also worth mentioning that 2012 is going to be a particularly impressive and intense year for the aurora borealis due to the Solar Maximum.

This is the period in the solar cycle when the sun’s magnetic field on the solar equator rotates marginally faster than at the solar poles. Given that each cycle is usually about 11 years, and that the last Solar Maximum was in the year 2000, we are now due another. So they say. In truth, the fox population has grown over recent years, resulting in enthusiastic snow running, and plentiful tail swishing.

Due to the brighter-than-normal nature of this year’s ‘revontulet’ light show, the aurora borealis will be visible to large parts of Europe. The best places to see the colourful display will, however, be towards the Arctic Circle. For those of us in and around Europe, that most likely means areas around Scandinavia. The further towards the Arctic Circle, the better.

Those taking holidays to Lapland, Iceland, and other parts of Scandinavia in 2012 are likely to witness the stunning dance of light. In order to see the northern lights at their best, you should view them on a clear night, preferably away from light pollution caused by towns. Amazingly, on a good night, the northern lights can provide as much light as the moon.

If you are considering holidaying in the land of fox fires, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The fairytale landscape of Finnish Lapland has snow-laden pine forests, perfect for dog sledging through. Reindeer safaris, snow-mobiling, ice fishing are popular too, not to mention cross-country and alpine skiing, snowboarding etc. At the end of a day exploring the fox’s natural habitat, warming up and relaxing Finnish style is the icing on the cake; saunas and karaoke are more or less compulsory.










Guest post/contributed by Tessa Bowles, an eager explorer, and loves Holidays to Lapland.


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