A Timeless Idea… Norwegian Island Wants To Ditch Time Altogether

The tiny Arctic island of Sommarøy has had enough of clocks, watches, hours and minutes.

And now this island that time forgot wants to forget time completely.

It’s summertime on the island, whose name means “Summer Island”. And they certainly get plenty of the season - the sun doesn’t set at all from May 18 through to July 26.

So one Sommarøy summer’s day lasts 69 of our Earth days.

Living with that sort of confusing paradox, it would be easy to lose track of time.

So perhaps it was only a matter of time until the 300 or so residents of the island decided to do away with the concept of time altogether.

Because who can worry about the midnight sun when there’s no midnight?

"There's constantly daylight, and we act accordingly," islander Kjell Ove Hveding told CNN in a statement.

"In the middle of the night, which city folk might call '2 a.m.,' you can spot children playing soccer, people painting their houses or mowing their lawns, and teens going for a swim."

Residents have petitioned the Norwegian government to approve their request to become the first “time-free zone” in the world – at least during those two months of summer.

Meanwhile, they can catch up on sleep during the winter night, which lasts from November to January.

They launched their campaign earlier this month with a video that asked people to join their campaign to “make time a thing of the past”.

Imagine the benefits! No more alarm clocks! No more deadlines! No more overtime! No more of this!

Ow. Ow.

On the other hand, it will become much harder to coordinate with other people. Umm… look, when you’re an island of only 300 people, you can probably call out “Hey, Erik!” and hope the message gets to him.

That may have been how they arranged the town hall meeting at which a petition was signed by the locals. Just waited around until they got quorum.

Those who were there early would have had to wait for the latecomers, which would be difficult when words like “early” and “late” have lost all their meaning. Indeed, it’s possible some people who were planning to vote against the idea just haven’t gotten around to arriving yet.

For while an endless, timeless day works well for the island’s primary industry, fishing, it presents some potential problems for their other main industry: tourism.

“It will be challenging with the guests in connection with check-in and check-out, opening hours at the bar and restaurant,” hotel receptionist Malin Nordheim told national broadcaster NRK.

On the other hand, the idea of a timeless place would no doubt be a draw to some tourists. It could be that, in this instance, a lack of time is money.

But generally, there will be no opening or closing times for shops and schools, and flexible working hours – or whatever phrase they use – will become the norm.

Visitors from the mainland are encouraged to leave their watches on the bridge which leads to Sommarøy.

Watch your step. (Image: Jøran Mikkelsen/Visit Norway)
Watch your step. (Image: Jøran Mikkelsen/Visit Norway)

On June 13, Hveding discussed some of the logistical issues when he handed the petition over to a Norwegian MP.

But now, they have just five weeks left if they want the plan to be implemented this year. Time flies!