Easter in Lapland

Easter, which coincides with the return of light and the end of the long polar night is the he most important holiday of the Lapps, a people without a state, torn apart between Sweden, Norway and Finland.

The Samis, as they call themselves, count nearly 50 000 souls, half of whom live in Norway, mainly around the towns of Kautokeino and Karasjok. It is in these towns, where the economy is built on the raising of reindeer, that Easter is celebrated with the greatest pomp. The whole holy week welcomes baptisms, communions and weddings that bring together at each occasion several hundred guests and maintain the community’s cohesion before the great springtime migration. Among the festivities, lasso-throwing tournaments, ice fishing competitions and joik (traditional Lapp songs) concerts also gather big crowds coming from all the Lapp provinces. But the star attraction remains the great reinder race where the richest breeders in all their finery rival each other in skill and elegance.