Greenland is the autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark that we love. Greenland is one of our favorite places in the world. It is a country filled with wonder, so much so that it gets regular visits from the green serpent in the sky! Apart from being able to witness the Aurora Borealis, Greenland also offers snowy paradise, and magical icefjords. This enchanted island is home to unique traditions, Christmas being one of them. Christmas is a very important festival in Greenland and although it is a popular and somewhat ‘mainstream’ celebration, Greenland has managed to make it its own. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Christmas in Greenland.
Greenlandic gift giving and the spreading of holiday cheer.
Nestled within Greenland’s icy slopes are the villages of the Polar Inuits. These families like to visit each other and have parties during this time of year. It is typical for the families to drink coffee, share cakes, and exchange brightly wrapped gifts. Some traditional gifts include: model sledges, polishes walrus tusks, sealskin mittens. Inuit’s understand that the Yuletide season is a time of happiness, cheer, and sharing. This is why they make sure that everyone in the village gets a gift and yes we mean everyone! Christmas is Greenland is more than just a consumer-driven holiday, it is meant to bring everyone together in celebration. Many children go from house to house singing songs and spreading holiday joy.
It must come of no surprise to state that Santa Claus also visits villages and leaves presents under the tree considering he and Mrs. Claus are believed to live in Greenland! According to the people of Greenland, The Claus’s live in the north of the country in Spraglebugten, near the town of Uummannaq!
Christmas in Greenland is a time for what most would consider an unconventional tree!
The Christmas traditions in Greenland are different considering it’s too cold for most trees to grow. Therefore, Christmas trees are imported, usually from Denmark. Although Greenland has its own identity and history it is worth noting that its Christmas customs are similar to those of the Kingdom of Denmark. In Greenland, like in Denmark, trees are adorned with candles, paper hearts and bright ornaments. Also, small versions of sealskin breeches also known as ‘kamiks’ are sometimes used in the decoration of the tree, which is traditionally decorated on the evening of December 23rd.
The Greenlandic people have a beautiful and exceptionally strong connection to the earth and everything it provides. Greenland’s citizens make sure to make use of all animal parts as well as every piece of nature provided within the region. This time of the year is no different. For example, those who don’t use an imported tree might have a traditional driftwood tree decorated with heather.
It is also customary for villages to put a large Christmas Tree on a nearby hill, this serves as a lovely reminder of the season and its spirit. Everyone in the town gets a lovely view of the shared tree. These trees are put up and decorated in order to prepare of the beginning of Advent.
Stars and unusual foods also play an important role during a Greenlandic Christmas.
Another popular decoration includes putting an illuminated star in windows. These stars are placed in most homes as well as public buildings. Christmas in Greenland occurs in a time of darkness where the Sun never rises therefore the stars help in bringing some light into the towns and villages.
Lastly, let’s talk about food. Greenlandic food is both unusual and fascinating. For example, we have ‘Mattak’ which is a whale skin dish. This piece of whale skin comes with a strip of blubber inside and is said to taste like fresh coconut. Mattak is often too tough to chew, therefore is usually swallowed. Another popular food during Christmas is ‘kiviak’. This food consists of the raw flesh of an auk, which is an artic bird. The dish has an interesting creation process in that the bird is first killed then buried whole in sealskin for several months. Once the auk is in an advanced state of decomposition it is ready to eat!
Greenland has many facets and is a world of it’s own. We hope you enjoyed this article and learned a thing or two about Inuit traditions and Christmas in Greenland. Stay tuned for more articles on culture and travel. Happy Holidays!