The Aurora Borealis has naturally been subject to many myths and superstitious beliefs through history. It features prominently in Norse mythology, as well as in old Inuit folklore and Chinese and Japanese beliefs. Here are five beliefs you should be aware of before you visit, just to be safe.
In Chinese and Japanese cultures, it is still believed that a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed with good fortunes – and good looks. With solar activity near its peak, Tromsø has seen a surge in Japanese tourists.
In old Icelandic folklore, it was also believed that northern lights would ease the pain of childbirth. Just don’t look at them before giving birth. Icelanders also believed that pregnant women looking at the Aurora would have cross-eyed children.
The few times northern lights can be seen in the south of Europe, it is normally red. This very rare and terrifying sight made people see it as an omen of war and bloodshed to come. Just weeks before the French revolution broke out dramatic red northern lights were seen in Scotland and England.
The biggest faux pas you can commit while viewing the Northern Lights is to wave, sing or whistle at them. Alerted to your presence, the spirits of the lights will come down and take you away. Clap your hands and you’ll be safe.
Having said that, North American Indians often whistled at the Northern Lights to encourage them to come closer so they could whisper messages that would then be taken to the dead.
People in northern Sweden believed that the Northern Lights were created by huge shoals of herring in the northern seas and that a spectacular showing meant bountiful catches were in the offing.
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