The European city with unusual winter rule as locals see only six hours of sun

A pretty European city has introduced an unusual winter rule for the locals to uplift their mood during the cold weather season when daylight is limited.

Luleå, a city in the northern Sweden, is encouraging its residents to say hello to each other when they venture out during the three hours of daylight they get during the colder months.

Home to around 80,000 people, the city is nestled so far north that the people living there see very little sunlight for some parts of the year.

And now a campaign has kicked off to elevate the mood of its residents, mostly for those who may feel lonely in the darkness.

The “Säg hej” campaign, meaning “say hello” in Swedish was introduced on October 31 which as well as Halloween, was “neighbour’s day” in Sweden.

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‘Hello can make a difference’

The town wrote on social media: “Saying hello makes people comfortable and feel safe, it’s something we can all do to create a more pleasant Lulea. Your hello can make a difference.”

A film accompanying the campaign, encouraging people to greet passers by has been shown in schools, on buses, and in public places.

The film shows a man walking past a woman resting on a park bench and saying “hej”, the woman, who does not respond, later smiles broadly.

It then shows that same woman saying “hej” to an old woman, who also doesn’t react at first but then smiles afterwards.

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Big city, little conversation

Luleå is one of the biggest cities in northern Sweden, however, those living in the city have a reputation for being quite reserved and even unsociable at times. With the city getting only six hours of sunlight during the winter, it gets difficult for the locals to have a face-to-face conversation. 

Locals speak so little to each other the word “yes” has been replaced with a sharp intake of breath, instead. Asa Koski a social media expert working on the campaign said: “Here it’s the opposite of Spain, where you are outside a lot, you talk to people, you sit on benches, you have a collective life outside.”

European countries, Finland and Sweden, are part of the six countries where the sun never sets for a particular period of time. These countries experience sunshine for months and some also experience darkness for some consecutive days.

In December, there are only six hours of daylight as the sunrises around 8.40 am and sets at around 2.46 pm. 

Loneliness was declared a “global public health concern” by WHO earlier this week with the US surgeon general saying that its mortality effects are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

According to experts, loneliness carries an even greater than those associated with obesity and physical inactivity.

In older adults, loneliness is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of developing dementia and a 30% increased risk of incident coronary artery disease or stroke.

But it also blights the lives of young people. Between 5 percent and 15 percent of adolescents are lonely, according to figures that are likely to be underestimates. In Africa, 12.7 percent adolescents experience loneliness compared to 5.3 percent in Europe.

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