The Story of the Festival
This amazing story begins in 1825 with two weddings in the northern country of Sweden.
In Korpilombolo, the village with the exotic name, which means "the desolate lake with a river flowing through it", people have gone to Övertorneå for a wedding and only a few elderly women remain in the village. A large fire breaks out and because the houses at this time are built so close to each other on the slope towards the lake, the fire takes all but one house, namely Palogården (palo means fire in finnish and meänkieli, which may seem like a strange coincidence). The women aren't able to save anything, and they can do nothing but look in despair while everything is burnt down to ashes. When the others return from the wedding, the women sit weeping and looking at the devastation. After this the village gets rebuilt, but now with greater distances between the houses which provide air and space. The map position is 66° 40 ' north latitude and 23° 10' east longitude.
That same year, in a village on the countryside of Skåne, the young couple Lovisa Petronella Faxe and Carl Sigismund von Greiff is joined in marriage by Lovisa's father, the bishop of Lund, Wilhelm Faxe. A month later, they will embark on the journey of their life to the city of Medellín in Colombia. They are most likely planning on returning to Sweden at some point, but fate wants otherwise. They end up staying in Colombia and new generations of von Greiff are born and grow up.
One of them is León de Greiff born in 1895 in Medellín. He becomes an author and a night owl. For him night is a time for reflection and creation and thus a very important time for people. When León de Greiff himself grows tired of life in Medellín and the critics' lack of understanding for his writings, he heads to the tropical Bolombolo where he finds new life in his writing, and he writes more than ever. This is where the story of the fictional figure Gaspar de la Noche, Gaspar de la Nuit, Gaspar von der Nacht or Gaspar of the Night is born - one of the most important figures in the authorship of de Greiff's.
In February 1926 León de Greiff sends Gaspar out on a long journey. He searches for a place where he can live in perfect peace, far away from civilization. His friends Mattias and Leo travel to Bolombolo while Gaspar travels to Korpilombolo to search for the absolute haven that can give his restless soul, a moment of rest. Gaspar finds peace in Korpilombolo under larch and pine trees, among rocks and ice, and he lives there for 33 years.
Not until León de Greiff finally gets to go to Sweden, the country of his dreams, as a counselor at the embassy, he calls back his fictive character Gaspar from Korpilombolo. According to the legend, he is sent to León de Greiff's birthday frozen into a large block of ice. Gaspar himself says it's all a lie and that he in fact had a very good time in Korpilombolo.
This story is found by the literary scholar Julian Vasquez, a native of Colombia, during his literature studies. He is fascinated by it and becomes curious about Korpilombolo. In spring 2004, he decides to make a visit and becomes fond of the place with the peculiar name. In the autumn the same year he organizes a symposium in Korpilombolo together with the universities of Umeå and Stockholm and the municipality of Pajala, and during this event an idea of a festival that celebrates "The Night" is born. The residents of Korpilombolo are mesmerized by the idea and see it as a gift from the other side of the globe, one they can not refrain from. The planning is now started.
From 1st to 13th December 2005, during the darkest time of the year, the first festival is held and many people from both near and far come together to participate. Little Korpilombolo shines like a pearl in the polar night, while the thoughts of the night are developed through poetry, music, philosophy and art. Even today we see with wonder how the "the word and the thought" can link two cities on opposite sides of the globe.