Dive into the heart of Finnish culture on Sami National Day. Discover the captivating traditions, history, and unity of the Sami community in Finland.
- Date: February 6th
- Main Components: Flagging, ceremonies, speeches, music, and traditional food
- Popularity: Celebrated by the Sami people in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia
- Pairings: Reindeer meat, fish, and berries
- Variations: Different regions have different customs and costumes
Sami National Day is a cultural celebration for the Sami people that falls on February 6. It commemorates the first Sami congress that was held in Trondheim, Norway, in 1917. The Sami people are the only indigenous people of the European Union. They live mainly in Norway, but also in Finland, Russia, and Sweden. They have their own distinct language, culture, and traditions.
History of Sami National Day
Sami National Day originated from the first general meeting of the Sami people that took place on February 6, 1917, in Trondheim, Norway. Participants from Sweden and Norway discussed issues related to mobility, land use, and reindeer herding. This was the start of the political awakening of the Sami people across national borders.
The Sami National Day was officially adopted during the 15th Sami conference in Helsinki, Finland, in 1992. The same year, the United Nations proclaimed the opening of the International Year of Indigenous People in Sweden. The first Sami National Day was celebrated on February 6, 1993.
The Sami people have faced many challenges and struggles for recognition and rights in different countries. They have been subjected to discrimination, assimilation policies, and cultural suppression. They have also formed their own institutions and organizations to protect their interests and identity. For example, in Finland, the status of the Sami was written into the constitution in 1995. The Sami have the right to maintain their own language, culture, and traditional livelihoods. They also have constitutional self-government in the Sami Homeland within the areas of culture and language. The Sami Parliament, elected by the Sami, manages this self-government.
Celebration of Sami National Day
Sami National Day is celebrated by the Sami people in different places with various activities and events. The most common feature is the flagging of the Sami flag, which was approved at the 13th Nordic Sami Conference in 1986. The flag has four colors: red, blue, green, and yellow. These are the same colors as in the traditional Sami costume known as ‘kolt’. The flag also has two symbols: a circle and a cross. The circle represents the sun and the moon, which are important elements of nature for the Sami people. The cross represents the four directions and the four seasons.
Another common feature is the singing of the Sami national anthem, which is called ‘Sámi soga lávlla’ or ‘Song of a Sami Family’. The anthem was composed by Isak Saba and Arne Sørli in 1906. It is sung in one of the three official Sami languages: Northern Sami, Inari Sami, or Skolt Sami.
Other activities include ceremonies, speeches, music performances, exhibitions, workshops, and traditional food. Some examples of traditional food are reindeer meat (reinsdyrkjøtt), fish (especially salmon), berries (especially cloudberries), bread (gáhkku), cheese (gurpi), and coffee (káffe). Some examples of traditional music instruments are drums (goavddis), flutes (fádnu), harps (harpu), and joik (a form of vocal expression).
Different regions have different customs and costumes for celebrating Sami National Day. For example, in Helsinki, there is a flag-raising ceremony at the University of Helsinki, followed by a seminar on Sami issues. In Oslo, there is a parade from the city center to Oslo City Hall, where speeches and music are held. In Jokkmokk, Sweden, there is a winter market with handicrafts and food stalls.
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Sami National Day is an important occasion for the Sami people to celebrate their culture and heritage. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness and address their issues and concerns as an indigenous people. The Sami people have achieved many accomplishments and faced many challenges in their history. They have a rich and diverse culture that deserves respect and recognition. They also have a future that depends on their cooperation and solidarity. Sami National Day can inspire other indigenous peoples and minorities to preserve their identity and rights.