Now let's move to the other side of the planet. Head north of the Arctic Circle where the long dark winter has set in. For our Geo Quiz today --- we were looking for a town in Sweden that boasts it has the world's biggest sundial.
It's the town of Pajala in northern Sweden. The World's David Leveille tells us more about the town with the sundial.
The 126-foot sundial in Pajala isn't of much use in December. The small Swedish town is located about 40 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in the far north of Sweden, where there's plenty of frigid air but only about 2 hours and 27 minutes of daylight this time of year.
"Welcome ... "(in several languages)
But the cold didn't keep the town from warmly greeting some musicians recently for an evening of songs.
"This is a very special evening, a very, very, very, very special evening. For the first time in history you will join a Laulun Laulut, a minority song contest happening here in Pajala, in Pajala!"
Laulun Laulut means "the song within us" in the local language of the indigenous Sami people. The concert opened with a Sami singer -- or joiker.
Organisers of song contest invited singers from throughout the Baltic Sea region. They sing in their native languages such as Karelian and Vepsian --- languages with relatively few fluent speakers. But they represent a diversity that should be treasured, according to organizer Onno Falkena:
"I mean if you want to keep your language alive, it's important to have also heros who are using your own language also important to have contemporary music in your own language that's not just music that has been the same for over 500 years."
Some of the languages literally transcend national borders. There were songs in Swedish as its spoken in Finland and in Finnish as its spoken in Sweden. Then came Karelian, the language spoken by some 75,000 people in Western Russia along the border with Finland. This is the 9 member band Olemba singing a traditional Karelian tune:
But it was a Finnish group called Surunmaa that won the locals' hearts this night.
Surunmaa sings in MeÃ¤nkieli, a language spoken in northern Sweden, so they're were right at home in Pajala. They played a Finnish blues tune which morphed into something closer to a tango. This is: "Hanging on".....as in "I'll go on, I'm on my knees but I'll go on, oh darling please, Don't leave me hanging on!"
Music: (lyrics translation):
You went on and I went under
Roamed the city full of shame
My worn out mind makes me wonder
What made you go away?
Took a hell bound seeking silence
In the belly of the beast
My burned out mind makes me plunder
For one last memory
I'll go on, I'm on my knees but I'll go on
And then I'll cry on, oh darling please
Don't leave me hanging on
I find it hand to trust your word dear
That things would turn out for the best
It's lonely living without you here
The Finnish band hung on, but they didn't win the contest. A group called Mordens from the central Russian republic of Mordovia, was chosen the big winner. Seems only fair as the artists traveled all the way from the Ural Mountains, near north-western Kazakhstan. It's so far east, there's a hint of Asiatic opera in their musical ode to a goddess named Yurtava.
Music: â€œGoodwill blessingâ€ performed by â€œMordensâ€ folk- art group from Mordovia
Matchmaker's songs performed simultaneously in two Mordovian languages (Erzya and Moksha). The songs are an appeal to mythological household and estate Goddess. The name of Goddess is â€œYurtava.â€
Yurtava, You are Kudon' kiyrdy (â€œhearth keeperâ€ in Erzya language), you are our bread-winner, Don't be scared of my voice. I appeal to you for the sake of well-being and not for the sake of evil. I dare to disturb you so that you let and receive our bride in the house. Look at her and see how beautiful our bride is. She is like a white swan.
Mordens, the winner
Just when you think you have a fix on Mordens, the band switches gears, and step on it. Linguists will appreciate this: they sing simultaneously in two different dialects of Mordvinian.
There was little talk of record deals or downloads at this multi-lingual concert, but these artists' heartfelt songs express their cultural identity which in turn inspired the good people of Pajala to join in dancing and singing the long Nordic night away.