Christmas trees have to be imported, mostly from Denmark, because trees don’t grow that far north. Every village puts a tree on the nearest hilltop so that everybody can see it, and then people decorate their own Christmas trees on 23rd December. Most houses also have an illuminated star in their windows. It doesn’t get light in the winter in this part of the world, so these stars look especially festive in the darkness.
Greenland is believed to be where Santa lives, and so children write him letters which are delivered to the post office in the capital city, Nuuk. Santa gets around by sleigh in Greenland, but he doesn’t need his flying reindeer here so it is pulled by dogs instead.
There are church services on Christmas Eve, and the people usually wear either their national costumes, or the famous ‘white parkas’ to show that this is a festive occasion.
On Christmas Day, the men look after the women and serve their meals – even stirring their coffee for them! Traditional foods eaten at Christmas are mattak (whale skin with blubber), kiviak (the raw flesh of little auks, which is wrapped in seal skin and left to decompose), fish and stew dishes.
If you want to wish someone a happy Christmas you would say “Juullimi Ukiortaassamilu Pilluarit.”
New Year is celebrated twice in Greenland – once at 8pm when 1st January arrives in Denmark, and again at midnight. On both occasions fireworks are set off, sometimes accompanied by the Northern Lights!
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