The culture of Sámi

Image by David Mark from Pixabay 

Finland has become one of my most favourite countries since my third semester in college. It is this country which I desperately wanted to visit now.

Before letting you know who Sámi people are and about their culture, let me give you a short overview of Finland. Because most of us wants to visit various destination but seems like Finland is not one of that place for many. It was like that for me a year ago.

Photo by Inga Seliverstova on Pexels.com

Being someone quite far away from Finland, after knowing about it I just realized it is one of the most underrated destination. Some of the most important thing that led me to admire about it are:

1. Finland is the happiest and safest country in the world. Yes! Now how comforting does it sounds.

2. Finland is known for something called Everyman’s Right i.e when you are in Finland you have freedom to roam wherever you want. And yes, it seems like its called every man’s right but lets be sure the Right is for every person.

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3. You can enjoy Skiing season for 6 months.

4. Finland is the country with the cleanest air in Europe. Just the perfect place for my lungs.

5. Finland is also known for its Sauna. They got 3+ million Sauna. I have also read that most of them have even their meetings in Saunas. Surprised!

6. Plus its the home to Heavy metal music. Best place.

There are more and more interesting things are there about Finland. Before knowing about all those, the only thing I knew about Finland is, its the home of the brand Nokia.

Image by TREKANDCO from Pixabay 

Scandinavian countries are really a beautiful set. If you look in the map, Finland is beautifully located in between Norway, Sweden and Russia. It has 4 regions : Helsinki, Coastal land, Lakeland and Lapland. You definitely can’t choose only one favorite. Each region are distinctive. If you visit official website of Finland you will able to know more about them. That’s one of the most beautiful destination website I have seen. It gives us the best user experience.

Make sure to check it out to know more.

Photo by Max Griss from Pexels

When I first read up about Finland, it reflected its abundance of nature. It is not only a land with 70% of forest, it also has 6500 islands, 1,88,000 lakes, which totally amazed me. Also, the amazing Finnish cuisine. If I ever go there I will definitely try to taste the Blueberry pie(Mustikkapiirakka), Salmon Soup(Lohikeitto) and Karelian Pasties. Not sure if it set to my taste palette. But no harm in trying if it won’t kill me. And most importantly for a person who dream of seeing Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) this country is a heaven. It appears 200 nights a year. You can lay on the lap of Lapland to witness its beauty.

Photo by Tuomas Haapala on Pexels.com

We are just at the beginning!

Sámi! One of the home to Sámi Culture is Finland. Most of our countries has many indigenous culture. But, Sami is Europe’s only indigenous community.

People who follow Sámi culture can also be seen in Norway and Sweden apart from Finland. But, I get to know about them because of Finland. Just like any indigenous community they are also struggling and striving amongst the issues which disguise itself in the name of development. This creates more pressure on them to protect their language and the entire existence of their culture from becoming extinct.

In Finland, Sámi’s live in the Northern most part. Approximately a population of 10,500 live in Finland and they are supported by the autonomous Sámi Parliament. Most of them can be found living in the village of Inari, Enontekio and Utsjoki. They are further seperated in the name of Northern Sámi, Greek Orthodox Skolt Sámi and Inari.

Sámi Women

So, from here on I’ll give you reasons to fall in love with their culture. The culture of Sámi has close connection with nature. Their way of living is sustainable from the beginning. Their livelihood and day to day work revolve around reindeer herding (legally reserved), hunting, fishing, berries and mushroom picking and making handicrafts. Sounds simple for people like us and let me make it clear, its not.

Even the food culture of the Sámi reflect their sustainable lifestyle. And I really fell in love while reading about it. They usually consume local and fresh food that are available. They consume reindeer meat, fishes, berries and wild birds. Since the olden days they preserved the meat by smoking and drying. Being geographically situated in the coldest corner their food are defined purposefully to the nutrition they required.

Sámi’s Traditional Costume

Most of their days are spent in the blankets of snow. The climate they live in defines the beauty of their clothing. They wear different clothing for winter and summer. Gákti is what traditional clothes of Sámi are know to be. They usually wear it for ceremonial or herding activities. Traditionally they are made of leather and roots. Men have shorter jackets and women have long dress. They have handed down certain color combinations from the early times such as red, blue, green, brown and white. During winter the clothing further add-on with reindeer fur coat and leggings. Plus they go with a suitable hat, scarf and fluffy shoes made of skin of reindeers called Nutukkaat.

Shoes off Sàmi

If you look closer they also wear a unique jewelry. It is known as Risku/Solju. The most astonishing and relatable aspect about it is that it is not only used to keep the scarf safe, it is also has an important part in wedding tradition of Sámi. Based on the pattern of the jewel they identify someone if they are married or not. Does it ringing a bell?

Inka Saara Arttijeff Secretary of International Affairs Sami Parliament Finland

The handicraft of Sámi are also called as Duodji craft. If you ever visit them and plan to buy authentic handicraft make sure to look out for the Duodji Label. Being a group of people who support themselves, most of their tools are prepared from wood, bone and antlers. Most of the products, accessories, utensils and cloths are made of natural resources and colors passed from their ancestors.

Siida Sámi Museum – Inari – Suomi – Finland

When we talk about culture we can’t forget about language. Sámi language is categorized under Uralic language family. In Finland out of 9 Sámi languages, only three are spoken (North Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi). And these three languages are so different from each other. At first they were considered different dialects but they are not.

Sámi’s mythological front has traces of Norse mythology. Also there seems to be no significant traditional dances that are passed on. Some believes the dance art must have disappeared over time. Yet, Sámi culture has a beautiful musical art of its own. Their musical art is called Joiks/ North Sámi Yoik, where they sing chants in the form of a cappella. The most beautiful part about it is that they sing it for nature, animals, special person and for certain occasions. They also play fando flute and hand drum along with their songs. Every year they celebrate a traditional music festival, Ijahis Idja (Nightless Night).

Sámi culture have left with only 3 board games. Which somewhat survived over time despite being threatened by emerging dominant religion which considered those games as satanic.

Sami and his Reindeer

Now, the next most important aspect of Sámi culture which gained my attention is their spiritual belief. Their spiritual belief revolve around Pantheism. Being a pantheist, I was quite intrigued by this fact. They consider that their day to day life and their habits, action, nature and animals as a guiding spiritual entity. Most of their spiritual sites are hills, lakes and forest.

I forgot something, dogs are part of Sámi people’s family.

Photo by Cristian Manieri on Pexels.com

On the whole the endangered culture of Sámi is trying to sustain in a difficult timeline despite many hindrances. If you are planning to visit, even though I am a tourism graduate, I encourage you to observe than participating by trying to wear the fake imitation of their cloths. Because as a tourist it might amuse us and feels like experiencing along with them. Whereas for them its their livelihood so being careful with our actions are necessary. Take a moment to make sure you aren’t offending them. Make sure you give respect to their culture like it is yours. This is universal aspect to keep in mind wherever you visit.

That’s all I got here! Hope you enjoyed and learnt about a new culture!

You can learn more about them if their culture interest you. I will be sharing the links below. If you get to know more about them please feel free to talk to me. Because even I haven’t visited there and wanted to learn more about them.

The Official Travel Guide of Finland

https://www.lapland.fi/visit/about-lapland/sami-europe-indigenous-people/

https://www.samediggi.fi/sami-info/?lang=en

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/23/battle-save-lapland-want-to-build-railroad

By NBsakura

A solivagant, who is trying to cherish every moment through every journey that I'm destined with.

13 comments

  1. This was such an interesting read! I love how the article is very candidly written without all the gloss and language grandeur, making it a piece meant for all.

    If you could rope in someone who’s into comic art, you could easily use this content as comic storytelling for kids. This is just a thought I had while reading because your writing style seems very accessible (not to mention, Tinkle-worthy) while also being engaging, entertaining, and informative all at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so much for the elaboraive feedback!!! This is really encouraging and helpful for me… I’ll definitely consider your suggestion and look out for someone to collaborate with. If any opportunity arises I’ll try to make use of it. Once again a big thanks.

      Like

  2. Amazing piece of work on indigenous community that I’m completely unaware of. You have brought all the important aspects of their culture, as well as taking a tour into Finland’s beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

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