In these northern areas sun has played a central role for living. And the most important is her absence. I call her a she, but in Sami culture the Sun is a he. In the autumn she slowly disappears, to 21.th November when she stays under the horizon until January 21th. Then the Polar Night rules the show. And in these times we can enjoy it to the
fullest. The pallet of pastels in the sky, northern lights and the moon coming and going.
People who lived before us struggled through wintertime. The most challenging for poor people living by the coast, was to have enough food – for themselves and for their cows and sheep. The animals were the assurance when fisheries didn’t go well, and the sheep gave wool to clothes necessary to survive in these areas. These people waited for the sun, and for spring. Times when weather conditions no longer were so harsh.
The Sami people have lived both at the coast and in the inland. Most well-known are the Sami living with their reindeer herds, moving from inland to the outer coast and back again each year. The coastal Sami lived by the coast all the time, used all resources nature could give.
Old Sámi faith, usually understood as shamanistic, had a spiritual leader, the noaidi. To communicate with gods, and spirits and do all the other stuff he could do, he had a drum which he used when he put himself into trance. The drum was the central tool for the noaide carrying out his tasks. On the drum each one had painted symbols. The sun was one of these symbols, and some drums have them in a central position of the drum.
Do you want to know more? http://www.saivu.com/web/index.php?giella1=eng
A famous Sami artist, Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (1943-2001), have made this poems called “The sun, my father” (Beaivi, Áhčážan). You can find him on you tube, reading poems and singing songs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qjF6qAMvys reading in Sami
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efu-tnZt_mU singing the traditional Sami song called joik
Sami and Norwegian people had and still have their lives in these northern areas. Some places they lived side by side, other places more separated. Sami and Norwegian, two different people also mixed together in a lot of different ways. The sun in the north, he – or she – is central for living here for all of us. We wait for her.
When she returns we have a celebration, a “sun day”. We even have these buns called sun buns. You will get fat if you eat too many, I promise.