Like in most parts of Europe, Christmas celebrations in Greenland begin on the Advent and go up to the 6th of January; the time of Epiphany.
During this time, you will hear the one common expression ‘Juullimi Pilluarit’ from most people; meaning ‘Merry Christmas.’ It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.
The Christmas star often symbolizes the birth of Jesus. It is a norm for families to assemble on Christmas Eve and light the star collectively. The people will fold the orange-yellow star in a paper, which glows beautifully.
The start tradition in Greenland began in 1733 with the Christian Brothers Herrnhutters. They actively participated in the significant customs of the region, including the Christmas practices.
Presently, most of the ritual practices in Greenland refer to the Herrnhutters.
Festivity and Decorations
People in Greenland celebrate Christmas with a lot of merry expressions. Some put on white anorak usually meant for festive dates.
Others wear the custom-made Greenland costumes. They then engage in a lot of good cheer.
During night time, you will find the town looking very beautiful with customized orange lights shining all over.
They decorate Christmas trees with candles and let them lit all over; in towns and at homes.
Other decorations include ornaments and beautiful hand-made items. The celebrations usually begin from the first day of Advent onwards.
People value Christmas trees such that some will have to import, while others modify them using the green firs.
On Christmas Eve, families gather around the Christmas tree to dance and sing carols. It is also a special moment for feasting and presenting gifts to family members, friends, and colleagues
The Value of Christmas Church Services
Chorals are a standard part of Christmas presentations in Greenland. Most of the people hold on to their faith entirely and thus the significance placed on church services at this particular time.
They commit to every church-related activity.
The Greenlanders consider the sessions to be very holy. Often, the small churches fill to the brim. You might even miss a seat if you arrive late.
Some church activities include: singing of psalms and listening to sermons that connect to the birth of Jesus and the happenings of that specific time.
Usually, sessions at the cathedral set in emotional moments for the majority. The people would shed uncontrollable tears in remembrance of the birth of Christ and their faith in Him.
Greenland forms the world’s biggest island. It is a beautifully scenic region. During the Christmas period, people will create light scenes on the churchyard graves.
To prevent wind from blowing off the fire on the yard, they form small caves in the snow that appears on the top part of the grave.
The church area, therefore, emits different types of lights that look so attractive. It is an outstanding and valued custom of the season.
The Greenland Christmas Dishes
Mostly, Christmas in Greenland is not complete without families and friends feasting on special Christmas dishes. The specific types of food will vary based on different land areas.
Still, some of the generally-cherished meals of the season in the region include:
- Greenland lamb
- Mattak (whale skin)
- Smoked salmon
- Kiviak (a mixture of frozen meat, fat, blood, berries and herbs)
- Roast Pork
- Reindeer meat
Furthermore, people in Greenland will never miss the Santa Lucia parade. It is an old Swedish tradition that Greenlanders place value.
Children usually wear white clothing, hold light beams, and participate in parade walks.
One child would act as Lucia, and walk ahead of others, putting on a headdress with four lights on it.
Other Greenlandic traditional Christmas activities that people maximize upon during this season include:
- Dog-sled races
- Greenland cultural dances
Habitually, as Christmas comes to an end and New Year approaches, people will mostly sit quietly in their houses.
Families bond indoors, as well as discuss Christmas happenings, and that of the anticipated New Year.
Learn More With the Help of Video
Main Points About Christmas in Greenland
- Christmas trees hardly grow in Greenland; hence, they have to be imported from Denmark and decorated on the evening of December 23rd.
- One of the most popular decorations in Greenland is illuminated stars in windows. This is often seen in public places and buildings.
- On Christmas night, Greenland men especially take care of their women, waiting on them hand and food.
- Greenland has very unusual Christmas meals. ‘mattak’ (whale skin with blubber), ‘kiviak’ (raw flesh of a type of arctic bird), ‘suaasat’ (soup is eaten raw or cooked).
- On Christmas eve, many people wear national costumes to mass. Some men wear special white attires (anoraks).
If you want a white Christmas for sure, this is where you should be! With 58 different words for snow depending on its form, the people of Greenland know their winter.
Typical presents can be model sleighs or sealskin mittens.
Many people go to church services wearing their national costume.
It’s also traditional that on this evening, it’s the men who look after the women and serve the food, fx. reindeer and whale skin (!).
Word Cloud for Christmas in Greenland
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Greenland. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.