In the villages of the Polar Inuits, families like to visit and have parties. They drink coffee and eat cakes and exchange wrapped packages.
Traditional gifts are sled models, a pair of polished walrus tusks or sealskin gloves. Everyone in the village receives a gift and the children go from house to house, singing songs.
On Christmas Eve, religious services take place and most people come to them, many in national costumes. Some men wear white anoraks that are worn on special occasions.
Christmas trees have to be imported, since they do not grow as far north as Greenland. Trees are often imported from Denmark. Greenland has had a long historical connection with Denmark. The trees are decorated with candles, bright decorations and, sometimes, small versions of sealskin calipers known as kamiks. The trees are traditionally decorated on the afternoon of December 23. People who do not use an imported tree can have a traditional driftwood tree decorated with heather.
Another traditional and popular decoration is to put a lit star on the windows. There are stars in most houses and in all public buildings. Because Greenland is far to the north, and within the Arctic Circle, during the winter the sun never rises! (You could take a brief look at the southern mountains, but that’s it!) So the stars help bring some light. The tradition of the hanging stars came with Christian missionaries from the church of Moravia. The stars are sometimes called “poinsettia stars” because they look a little like the flowers of the poinsettia.
The villages also place a large Christmas tree on a nearby hill, so that everyone can see it. These trees are ready and ready for the start of Advent.
Saint Lucia’s Day (December 13) is also celebrated in Greenland.
There are some unusual foods that are eaten at Christmas in Greenland. ‘Mattak’ is whale skin with a strip of fat inside. It is supposed to taste like fresh coconut, but it is often too difficult to chew and is usually swallowed. Another Christmas meal is ‘kiviak’. This is the raw meat of the small hairs (a type of Arctic bird) that have been buried in seal skin for several months until they have reached an advanced stage of decomposition! Although it sounds strange, it is a delicacy in Greenland.
Other popular foods in Greenland include “suaasat”, which is a soup / stew, caribou / grilled reindeer, lamb, razorbill, ptarmigan and fish as raw or cooked sushi. The popular desserts are berries and apples with a crunchy topping and a special Christmas porridge that is served with butter and sugar and cinniamon. They also eat many Danish pastries and Christmas cookies.
It is traditional on Christmas night that men take care of women, serve them food and coffee and stir their food. The games follow the Christmas meal, including one in which an object is passed from hand to hand around a long table under the cloth. It is supposed to be repulsive: round, sticky and rough in texture; Like a frozen egg, wrapped in strips of wet fox fur!
As in Finland and other countries, candles are sometimes lit in cemeteries on Christmas Eve to remind family and friends.
- In Greenland two main languages are spoken, Inuit / Greenlandic and Danish. In Greenlandic, Feliz / Feliz Navidad is ‘Juullimi Pilluarit’; in Danish is ‘Glædelig Jul’. Happy / Merry Christmas in many more languages.
- Greenland also claims to be the place where Santa lives or at least goes for his summer vacation! It is said that he has a house in the north of the country in Spraglebugten, near the city of Uummannaq!
- New Year’s Eve is celebrated twice in Greenland! At 8:00 p.m., they celebrate that the new year has arrived in Denmark and at midnight it is the new year in Greenland! In both celebrations, people like to release many fireworks and rockets.