Like lovers who attach locks to bridge railings and throw away the key, Sommaroy islanders now want to hang up their watches on bridges. That’s because the northern island of Sommaroy is wondering if it still needs the concept of time at all.
Like lovers who attach locks to bridge railings and throw away the key, Sommaroy islanders now want to hang up their watches on bridges. That’s because the northern island of Sommaroy is wondering if it still needs the concept of time at all.
Like lovers who attach locks to bridge railings and throw away the key, Sommaroy islanders now want to hang up their watches on bridges. That’s because the northern island of Sommaroy is wondering if it still needs the concept of time at all.

Lost track of time? There’s a small Norwegian island where you’d fit in quite well. The northern island of Sommaroy is wondering if it still needs clocks at all. Due to its location in the Arctic Circle, the island gets a lot of midnight sun, so the concept of day and night feels more like a construct to many.

Now, in the summer months when the sun doesn’t set on the island for almost 70 days, Sommaroy is campaigning to be officially recognised as the first timeless zone on earth, says Kjell Ove Hveding of the Sommaroy initiative.

Because it’s always bright anyway, it’s not necessary to know exactly what time it is, so the thinking goes. “If you live in the north of Norway, it doesn’t make sense to talk about dinnertime – or any other time,” says Hveding.

“We are taught to go to the house in the evening and watch television at 9 pm. We don’t even think about it. But why should one eat at 5 o’clock, why not at 10 o’clock? Let’s play football at midnight, why not?”

Sommaroy (“Summer Island”) is located near the city of Tromso in the far north of Norway. For the 350 or so inhabitants of the island, the sun does not set behind the horizon from May 18 to July 26, says Hveding.

This leads to children playing outside in the middle of the night and homeowners being able to paint their homes at night. “The midnight sun makes watches superfluous for us.”

Hveding admits that this is a crazy idea. But locals are taking it seriously: “We have discussed more and more how our watch takes our time instead of giving it to us,” he says.

Like lovers who attach locks to bridge railings and throw away the key, Sommaroy islanders now want to hang up their watches on bridges. And the idea is getting closer and closer to reality: A petition has been signed, and a few days ago Hveding presented it to a member of parliament. But will the government in Oslo agree to the campaign? Time will tell. – dpa