Sunday, August 21, 2011

Culture and Traditions of Lapland

June 26, 2010 by Travel Guide Lapland  
Filed under Travel Guide

The indigenous peoples of Lapland are the Sami people, after whom Lapland was named (‘Lapp’ is a derogatory term for Sami). The historical culture and traditions of Lapland have strong ties to the traditions of the Sami. A trip to Lapland will allow you to experience the culture and traditions of these people to the fullest extent.

Duodji, the Sami handicraft, is based around functionary ideas. As the Sami were originally nomads, it was believed that every object created should have a purpose, rather than just being purely ornamental – that is, bring together the ideas of art and function. This belief may not be as well-practiced today, but the idea of creating functional objects remains. Sami handicraft items include knives, cases, cups and some clothing items.

There are only two musical instruments in Sami culture – the flute and the drums. Nearly all Sami music is performed by singing without accompaniment (i.e. a cappella). Sami songs are often improvised and spiritual, with the traditional form being the ‘yoik’. Each yoik is supposed to reflect a specific person or place, and is usually sung from deep in the throat to display emotion. There are several well-known Sami musical artists, one of the best known being Wimme Saari.

One important aspect of Sami culture is reindeer husbandry. At present, only Sami people (or people with Sami relations with deep ties to a reindeer herding family) can own reindeer in Norway. Such restrictions are not in place in Finland, where anybody with European Union or European Economic Area nationality can own reindeer. Reindeer herding was practiced for centuries by the Sami, who used reindeer for their meat, antlers, hides, transportation and milk.

Sami culture and traditions have been practiced for centuries, with many opportunities to view this valuable culture in practice during any trip to Lapland. Any visitor to the region should look into stopping by a Sami theater or otherwise get involved with Sami culture – it will be very rewarding!

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