FIERCE FRIDAY

FIERCE FRIDAY: MIDSUMMER SÁMI

Ok, so not that fierce perhaps, but a strong look all the same from this young Sámi woman from Jokkmokk in northern Sweden, to celebrate the recent summer solstice.

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Midsummer is understandably a big deal in Scandinavia, where long, light summers make up for equally long, dark winters. Sweden in particular is well known for its solstice celebrations, which typically involve a lot of folk dancing in traditional costume, quantities of strawberry meringue cake, and customs like the one above, where a young woman will pick seven different flowers to place under her pillow on Midsummer night and dream of her lover.

Of Finno-Ugric origin, the Sámi are the only formally recognised indigenous people of Scandinavia, occupying parts of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and western Russia known collectively as Sápmi. Though best known for subsistence by reindeer herding, they also practice fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding. 

Known as duodji, crafts are central to Sámi culture, as is gákti, their traditional costume in which pattern and colour vary according to the wearer's origin, marital status and even family. Consisting largely of wool felt, fur and cotton, the most typical colours used are strong reds, blues, yellows, greens and white. Most gákti are heavily decorated with embroidery, ribbons and pleating, and the most distinctive items are their ornately embellished and strikingly shaped gloves, hats and boots.

At the other end of the seasonal spectrum, Jokkmokk is known for hosting a 400-year-old annual winter festival involving traditional dance, food and reindeer races.