Umea is a city pretty darn far north of Stockholm, which is already way up there. And in the winter, it gets really dark for a really really long time. Which can bum a Swede out. So it is fortunate that an energy company (called Umea Energy) has decided to install ultra-violet, essentially happiness-producing lights at bus stops around the city.
During winter, there are only about seven hours of daylight in Umea — from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Light therapy has long been touted as a way to help winter darkness blues, which is also referred to as S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) and which is, unsurprisingly, a big problem in Sweden and other very northern countries. Yeah, it takes more energy to run an antidepressant bus stop than a regular one, but the company says their energy comes from “environmentally sound sources,” and we believe it because this is Sweden where they care about things. Also, we’re talking about the mental health of an entire city here.
At present 30 light-up bus stops have been installed, and they will be in place for three weeks while the worst of the no-sunlight winter plays itself out. After that, well, that’s when the vodka comes in handy.