Today marks the Sami National Day in recognition of the very first Sami congress, which was held in in Trondheim in Norway on this date in 1917. The congress brought together Sami from different countries to work together in harmony to resolve issues related with their culture. Sami National Day was implemented in 1992 and falls each year on the 6th of February.
Who are the Sami people?
The indigenous Sami people originate from Eurasia, around the Arctic region, which today are more commonly referred to as individual countries. Sami hail from the far northern reaches of the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Finland, together with Russia’s Kola Peninsula, which is collectively referred to as Sápmi. There are also Sami populations in the USA and the Ukraine.
Ancestral lands belonging to the Sami cover a vast area of nearly 390,000 km2 (150,000 miles2) which is likened in size to the whole of Norway. The Sami use their own unique language, have traditional livelihoods and their own way of life.
Traditional Sami trades and culture
The Sami culture is focussed on outdoor living, with ancient traditional dominating their chosen livelihoods. For example many practice sheep and reindeer herding, coastal fishing and fur trapping, much as their ancestors would have done.
The traditional handicraft of Duodji is still in use today, although to a lesser extent than in days gone by. Weapons, clothing, accessories and utensils are all crafted for use in everyday life. The Sami wear the traditional outfit known as Gakti; with a dress, shawl and boots for females and a jacketed version for males. Each colour, pattern and jewellery worn is unique, with the individual components denoting where the particular Sami hails from. The Sami have their own daily newspaper, news bulletins and chant-style music.
Sami National Day
Each year since 1992, the sixth of February is given over as Sami National Day to honour the original 1917 Sami congress. The Sami fly their flag and sing their national anthem with pride. Norway’s capital city of Oslo displays both the Norwegian and Sami flag, and the bells of the City Hall play the Sami national anthem alongside a flag raising ceremony. Local communities hold special festivals and events.
It’s a great opportunity to learn more about this fascinating culture and maybe to even try some of the traditional food and ways of life. Watch the touching YouTube video above for a rare glimpse into Sami culture.
Image credit; Ernmuhl at lb.wikipedia CC ASA 3.0