What are the northern lights?
What are the northern lights? They look like this… Unless you’re in the south.
If you’ve ever seen the northern lights, you know that they’re just plain crazy. All sorts of colored lights dance across the sky, sometimes for hours on end. The northern lights can be green, red, white, blue, pink, orange, yellow, and just about anything in between. After watching them for a while, you start thinking, “What are the northern lights?” Today, we are going to figure it out once and for all.
The northern lights could be one of many things
Scientists will tell you that the northern lights are created when charged particles from our sun impact atoms in the magnetosphere, creating light. Oxygen atoms create the more common green northern lights, and nitrogen atoms create the blue and red lights. Do you know what I think about all of this science stuff? BORING! Let’s look at some other theories about the northern lights and ascertain the truth for ourselves.
If you live in the north, you have your own explanation for northern lights
All sorts of people from all over the planet live far enough north to see the northern lights. They all have a pretty convincing explanation for the northern lights. Let’s see what they are because we are way too smart for all that science mumbo jumbo.
What are the northern lights according to the Canadian Inuits?
The Inuits lived in Canada for millennia, so they know more about northern lights than anyone else. They believed that the lights were spirits of dead ancestors playing a ball game with a walrus skull. In this game, the walrus skull was the “ball,” which makes you wonder about the rules of this game. Walrus have big tusks that can measure a few feet long, so that sounds like a pretty crappy ball. However, Inuits living on Nunivak Island believed that walrus spirits were playing with a human skull “ball,” which makes a lot more sense.
What are the northern lights according to the Alaskan Inuits?
Alaskan Inuits believed the northern lights were the spirits of animals they hunted and ate. That means the northern lights could be dead spirit salmon, or spirit seals, or spirit whales. You get the idea. I don’t know how I would feel about seeing the beaver I slew and ate flying around all over the sky. It would probably make me nervous. Inuits living in Barrow thought the lights were evil and they carried a knife to protect themselves from them. That’s kind of weird. It makes you wonder if the lights were more aggressive back then.
What are the northern lights according to the Vikings?
The Vikings thought that the northern lights were spears, but they thought everything looked like spears. In Norse mythology, they thought the lights were female warriors on their way to Valhalla. They called women soldiers Valkyries, which is a pretty cool name.
What are the northern lights according to the Swedish?
Fisherman in Sweden believed that the lights were good luck. When they saw them, they believed the fishing would be really good. It’s funny how fishermen have always been superstitious. I still believe it’s bad luck to keep the first fish you catch, and that’s just stupid. Also, Swedish fish, am I right?
What are the northern lights according to the people of Hudson Bay?
These native people believed the northern lights were demons carrying lanterns. The demons were chasing lost souls, presumably to add to their collection. This one is pretty convincing because you gotta figure collecting souls is something that demons are into.
What are the northern lights according to the Fins?
The magic fox of Finland has a lot to say.
People from Finland believed that the lights were created by a mystical fox. The fox would dance around and its bushy tail would spray snow and sparks all over the sky. This one is pretty appealing. I like the thought of some giant magic fox spraying light everywhere. Sounds trippy. Let’s just say this one is fact and leave it at that.
This sure was a fun romp through the heavens to explore the true meaning of the northern lights. Now that we know the facts, we can correct those fancy science types and tell them all about the Magic Fox of Finland. That will make their head spin!