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Norway Islanders Want to Go ‘Time-Free’

The island of Sommaroey is north of the Arctic Circle. There, the sun does not rise between November and January -- or set between May and July. (AP Photo / Doug Mellgren, FILE)
Norway Islanders Want to Go 'Time-Free'
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Many people who live on Norway’s far-northern island of Sommaroey are campaigning to go “time-free.”

They note that between May and July, the sun does not set there for 69 days. To enjoy the bright summer months, they would like to ignore traditional business hours. For example, stores would be open when people are there to work at them. Schools would operate when teachers and students are ready.

Kjell Ove Hveding is one of the local leaders of the campaign. He said the 350 people who live on the island already go mostly time-free. He said that in the summer at 2 in the morning, you might see “children playing soccer, people painting their houses or mowing their lawns, and teens going for a swim.”

To show their feelings about time, many islanders take off their watches. They leave them on a bridge that connects the island to the mainland.

Earlier this month, Hveding met with a Norwegian lawmaker. He presented a formal request signed by people who live on the island. The request asked the government to declare the area a “time-free zone.”

Hveding noted that he understands going completely time-free would be too complex in a world that operates on schedules. And, as an article in the Smithsonian magazine says, people’s health depends on keeping a usual rhythm of being asleep and being awake.

But Hveding argues that letting go of time limits can also be good for people. He said the time-free proposal would permit the islanders to get used to the daylight and feel more calm.

“The idea is also to chill out,” he said. “I have seen people suffering from stress because they were pressed by time.”

Since the people of Sommaroey made their proposal, other northern towns have reportedly supported similar ideas for their areas, too.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

The Associated Press reported this story. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

mow - v. to cut grass with a machine or a blade

teen - n. someone who is between 13 and 19 years old

zone - n. an area that is different from other areas in a particular way

rhythm - n. a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movements

chill out - v. to become more relaxed : to become less tense, anxious, or angry

stress - n. something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety