Festivals in Greenland

The return of the sun

Following months of winter darkness and clear starry skies in North Greenland it is particularly pleasing to see the sun reappear on the horizon. The return of the sun is celebrated with family excursions, songs, coffee and cakes in most of the towns north of the Arctic Circle. For instance, on 13th January families and school classes in Ilulissat take a trip out to Holms Hill (Seqinniarfik) by dogsled and welcome the return of the sun with songs.

Christmas in Greenland

Christmas is a particularly festive occasion in Greenland. It is celebrated with numerous candles and masses of the characteristic red-orange Christmas stars that can be seen in all windows in private homes and public buildings. In the towns, lights are illuminated on Christmas trees on the first Sunday in Advent, and the cosy atmosphere in the homes of most families is further enhanced as Christmas decorations are cut out and mulled wine and Christmas goodies are enjoyed. According to tradition in Greenland, Christmas stars and other Christmas decorations may not be taken down until 6th January, i.e. Twelfth Night.

Christmas for children

It is a custom that on Christmas Eve children sing in front of the town’s houses after which they are given a generous portion of Christmas goodies by the occupants. Lucia processions on 13th December, where children with garlands on their head and candles in their hands sing about Saint Lucia, are very popular at schools and after-school centres. Christmas Eve is celebrated on 24th December with dancing around the Christmas tree, although many children have already received their presents in the morning!

National Day

Greenland’s National Day is a national festival celebrated on 21st June, the longest day of the year. All towns and settlements celebrate the day with a similar programme consisting of songs and entertainment. You can read more about this special event here.

New Year in Greenland

New Year is celebrated in the same way as in Europe with good food, fireworks, singing and champagne – although there is a difference: On 31st December New Year is celebrated twice – firstly the Danish New Year at 8 p.m. (there is a 4-hour time difference) and then the Greenlandic New Year at midnight. On both occasions the night sky and the snow-covered landscapes are illuminated by spectacular and colourful rockets.

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