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Christmas in Greenland

Christmas in Greenland
Christmas in Qaqortoq always starts on the 1st Sunday of Advent, which gets a big celebration here in Greenland. Many people go to church and families eat together. The first Sunday of Advent is also the day when the town's Christmas tree is lit, we're singing Christmas carols and the children gets candy and Christmas sweets. In almost every house, the Christmas stars are lit and suddenly everything is lit up by wonderful strings of lights and window decorations.
As many people who come to Greenland in December will experience, Christmas is much more relaxed than in other countries. No cities are connected by roads in Greenland and therefore we don't travel to other cities to do Christmas shopping and because of that we need to shop everything locally or online which is why we're not all rushing to the same department store or mall.
At Christmas, a lot of students and family memberscome home and the city is full of joy of reunion and good vibes. Often you haven't seen your child, your girlfriend, your parents etc. for many months. Maybe even years. We've both been standing on the harbor or in the heliport waiting to receive or be received by our loved ones and when we are together, everything seems to fall into place and then it can finally be Christmas.
A real Christmas is snowy. That is almost guaranteed in Greenland, but only almost. In the south, the Gulf Stream can cause sudden heat, and therefore we can risk a green instead of white Christmas. Fortunately, it happens extremely rarely, and the snow together with all the lights makes everything shiny and bright. In the sky, northern lights are often appearing, which blaze in many different colors. 
In Greenland, trees don't really grow, and therefore some people make their own Christmas tree from juniper branches, which are inserted into a stem, which can be a round stick or something else suitable. But the vast majority buy a pinetree that is shipped here by ship, or a plastic Christmas tree that can be used year after year. The tree is decorated with hearts, angels, stars and glass balls, and garlands in happy colors often hang from the ceiling.
The Greenlandic Christmas carols are sung and played diligently. They are extremely atmospheric and in Greenland we have a very special hymn called Guuterput, and after the intro is sung, everyone stands up in respect and the rest of the hymn is sung standing. There is also a tradition for children to go from house to house on Christmas Eve and sing Christmas carols.
Perhaps you know Danish Television's (DR's) TV program Julehilsner til Grønland. It is the world's oldest still existing program. The program is packed with singing, music and greetings between Denmark and Greenland. This year the program will be shown on 15th of December, and you can participate both live or watch it on television.
Here in Greenland, Christmas food and Christmas baking are incredibly important and full of traditions. Like in Denmark, many people eat duck and roast pork and finish with rice a la mande, but there is also a tradition of lamb, grouse, appat, reindeer, musk, etc. 
In Greenland, approx. 95% of the population are members of the national church and many are diligent churchgoers. The Christmas season is of course no exception. Christmas concerts, church services on Advent Sundays and Christmas Eve, and we must especially mention the church service on Christmas Day at 8, which is quite special. Many come dressed in Greenlandic national dressing and together the most beautiful and atmospheric service is held and everyone wishes each other Juullimi Pilluaritsi, which means Merry Christmas.
In Greenland, Christmas lasts until and including Epiphany, January 6. In Greenland, the day is a ½ day off and in the afternoon family and friends gather. They dance one last time around the tree, eat delicious food, play and have fun. When the evening is over, Christmas is packed away, the stars are turned off and other decorations are taken down and packed away and wait for it to be the 1st Sunday of Advent next year.
Juullimi Pilluaritsi
Pipaluk & Anne Mette
Co-founders, InuaCare

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