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North Pole Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
“We found, before the hands of the dial had taught us the lapse of a week, that this would be something not to be endured. The sun sank lower every day behind the crags and silvery horns; the heavens grew to wear a hue of violet, almost black, and yet unbearably dazzling; as the notes of our voices fell upon the atmosphere they assumed a metallic tone, as if the air itself had become frozen from the beginning of the world and they tinkled against it."
~ Harriet Prescott Spofford, The Moonstone Mass (1835-1921)
The Northwest Passage is the sea route to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic Ocean and requires crossing the Arctic Circle twice, once each in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Although there have been many claimants for achieving the North Pole in an attempt to complete the Northwest Passage, today marks the day in 1926, that Norweigian explorer Roald Amundsen, who led the first expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage by ship, reach edthe North Pole (via dirigible). Many prior and subsequent attempts have been made, but the Arctic Circle has been explored since ancient times. In 330 BC, Pytheas of Massalia, a Greek merchant and geographer explored Britain and the waters north of Scotland. He described an island six days sailing north of Britain called “Thule.” This may have referred to Iceland, but could also have been the coast of Norway, or the Shetland or Faroe Islands. Pytheas was the first person to record a description of the midnight sun, the aurora, and Polar ice.
With this dance, there can be more than Mirrie Dancers (Scottish folklore describing the Northern Lights - Na Fir Chlis – “the Nimble Men”) dancing in the Arctic Circle!
Although the Arctic and Antarctica do share quite a few similarities such as the dark 24 hour winters and equally long summers, while Antarctica is a land-based continent, the Arctic is not, resulting in significantly different climates and temperatures (the Arctic is far warmer) and geology.
Only 1% of Antarctica supports plant life whereas the Arctic has a Boreal Forest (called the Taiga), which is the world’s largest biome. The Arctic is home to an array of large land animals whereas, in the southernmost continent on earth, the largest land animal is a 6mm midge.
For more on beautiful and unusual ice formations, click the beautiful "sea ice" also known as sea flowers or frost flowers, beautiful ice formations that form on the Polar Seas as a result of the high salinity of newly formed ice crystals.
And for a video of the Rockville HS Scottish Fest 2012 RSCDS Demo Team, see below.