Christmas in Greenland is a unique and special celebration, influenced by a combination of indigenous Inuit traditions, Danish customs, and more modern influences. Here's how Christmas is typically celebrated in Greenland:
The Christmas season in Greenland typically begins with the start of Advent in late November or early December. Many Greenlanders have Advent calendars and light Advent candles as part of their preparations for Christmas.
Greenlanders decorate their homes with Christmas lights, ornaments, and sometimes Christmas trees. Traditional Inuit artwork and symbols may also be incorporated into the decorations.
On Christmas Eve, families come together for a festive meal. Traditional Greenlandic dishes like "Mattak" (whale skin with a layer of blubber) and "Kiviak" (seabirds fermented in sealskin) are often served alongside more modern fare. As in many other parts of the world, the Christmas dinner is an opportunity for family to gather and enjoy each other's company.
In Greenland, gifts are typically exchanged on Christmas Eve or during the Christmas season. Modern and traditional gifts are given, and Santa Claus (known as "Julemanden" or "Julemand" in Greenland) is often the one believed to bring presents to children.
Christmas church services are attended by many Greenlanders, even those who may not regularly attend church. The religious aspect of Christmas is significant, with church choirs singing carols and hymns.
In some communities, particularly those in the more remote and traditional areas, Inuit drum dancing and traditional storytelling play an essential role in the Christmas celebrations. These are rich cultural traditions that have been incorporated into the Christian holiday season.
In Greenland, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are often visible during the Christmas season, adding a magical and natural element to the festivities.
In some Greenlandic communities, it is a tradition for Santa Claus to arrive by dog sled or boat, reflecting the local culture and Arctic environment.
Many Greenlanders wear traditional clothing, such as sealskin or fur garments, during the holiday season. These garments are both practical for the harsh Arctic winter and are worn with pride in preserving Greenlandic culture.
Christmas is a time for family reunions, and it is not uncommon for people to travel great distances to be with their loved ones during the holiday season.
Greenland's unique cultural blend of Inuit traditions and Danish influences, along with the breathtaking Arctic landscape, makes Christmas in Greenland a one-of-a-kind experience. It's a time for celebration, togetherness, and a celebration of both the old and the new, as Greenlanders embrace their cultural heritage while also adopting contemporary elements of the holiday season.
In Greenland there is a lot of visiting of families, drinking coffee and eating cakes, as well as giving of brightly wrapped presents which might consist of a model sledge, a pair of tusks, or even a sealskin mitt.
Everyone in the village gets a gift and children go from hut to hut, singing songs.
Christmas trees are imported and decorated with candles as well as bright ornaments. There is dancing most of the night. After the coffee, cakes and carols everyone is given Mattak which is whale skin with a strip of blubber inside is given to everyone. The taste of it is much like coconut, but is tough to chew and is usually just swallowed.
Another food that is eaten is Kiviak which consists of raw flesh of an auk which has been buried whole in sealskin for several months until they have reached an advanced stage of decomposition.
This is the one night of which the women are waited on by the men.
There are games played including one in which an object is passed from hand to hand round a long table under the cloth.