Pristine pure and startlingly white, the gigantic blanket of snow stretches far into the horizon.

It’s snowing, too, instantly ousting any thought you might have of leaving virginal footprints behind for posterity. Arriving at the Finnish town of Rovaniemi, you step out on to the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees north, and feel a sense of achievement — of being literally on top of the world — so close to the North Pole. If you’re lucky, you could witness the spectacular northern lights, the aurora borealis that fills the night sky with a riot of swaying colours. The dance of heavenly lights is visible only for some 100 nights in a year, depending on clear skies and on the intensity of solar winds.

Romantic legends and fables abound among indigenous peoples of the Arctic region where the northern lights are visible.

To the Lapps or the Sami, it is light emitted by sparks caused by the fire fox’s tail dragging over the snow as the animal races to keep an appointment. To Canadian Indians, the lights are sparks caused by the fur of caribou-elks. To the Inuit, it is the souls of dead children playing football. In Scotland, the lights are called the Merry Dancers. In northern Russia, they call them Saluny-telmijat. In middle and southern Europe where the aurora borealis is sighted rarely, the lights evoke awe, even fear.


The sun emits particles that travel through space in solar winds. These waves of particles consist of electrons and protons. As they arrive at the central layer of the earth’s magnetosphere, the electrons collide with oxygen or nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere and energy is given off in the form of visible light. Oxygen atoms generate green and red light and nitrogen atoms, blue and purple light.

It is said that the northern lights are reflections of large fires, built by God, to remind those he created of his everlasting love.

This website shows the Helsinki webfonts in action.
Text by Narayani Ganesh.

The type family is inspired by the Finnish traffic sign typeface and was designed by Ludwig Übele during his stay in Rovaniemi, a small town in the very north of Finland.

In the cold and dark Finnish winter nights he often had the chance to see and enjoy the magic of the northern lights.

Helsinki webfonts are now available at