Merry Christmas in Saami languages!

Mun sávan buohkaide ráfálaš Juovla ja Ođđajagi ávvudeami 2017! (Saami)

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017!

Lars-Nila Lasko - Saami History Blog
Lars-Nila Lasko – Saami History Blog

For most people around the world, Christmas is an imported tradition. In earlier times there was not Christmas in Sami tradition. Today Christmas is celebrated among the Sami in the same way as that of other peoples in the world. Maybe Sea Saami have some more delicacies from the sea, perhaps Fishing Saami have more salted fish of different shapes and maybe reindeer herders have more reindeer meat among all the Christmas Ham and dried, salted and lye Stockfish (Lutfisk)? Otherwise, the Christmas celebrations is the same as for everyone else on earth.

Lars-Nila Lasko - Saami History Blog
Lars-Nila Lasko – Saami History Blog

That Christmas is imported to the Saami People can be seen in the Saami language. In the East Saami language area is the word Christmas originated from the Russian word for Christmas “Roždest” (Рождест). In the West Saami language area is the word Christmas originating from the Nordic “Jul” and the old germanic word “jehwla”. Jehwla originally meant only likely to “feast”.

Lars-Nila Lasko - Saami History Blog
Lars-Nila Lasko – Saami History Blog

Merry Christmas can be said in many ways in Saami. The reason is that the Saami language is actually many different languages. It has “Merry Christmas” in Sami from northern to southern Saamiland – A language trip from the White Sea at Kola Peninsula in Russia to the deep forests at the Coutny of Dalarna in the south Sweden;

Šuvv Rostov! (Ter Saami language)

Rostov Pijven! (Kilding Saami language)

Siõǥǥ Rosttvid! (Skolt Saami language)

Pyereh Juovlah! (Inari Saami language)

Buorit Juovllat! (Northern Saami language)

Buorre Javlla! (Lule Saami language)

Buorre Jåvvlå! (Pite Saami language)

Buörrie Juvvla! (Ume Saami language)

Lahkoe jåvle! (Southern Saami language)

In addition there were until 1700s the Kainu Saami language and 1800s the Kemi Saami language in Finland. Very few is speaking Akkala Saami language in Russia. Kemi Saami language and Kainu Saami language are now extinct languages!

It´s belived that in ancient time were more Sami languages in central and south Finland and in Karelia (Koponen, 1996; Saarikivi, 2004; Aikio, 2007).

In Sweden there are a list of 1.644 Saami words from Valbo, Gästrikland,  recorded in 1770 – 1780 by a student Petrus Holmberg to Carl von Linné. A summary of the list was published by K.B. Wiklund. The whole list could be find in manuscript collection number 105 by historian Ihré at UBB, University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden. This may indicate that there has been a futher Saami language, or South Saami dialect, south of the South Saami language.

About “Merry Christmas” in Lule Saami language it was traditionally  ”Buorre Javla”. However, today it is more populare to say  Buorre Javlla.


Lars-Nila Lasko - Saami History Blog
Lars-Nila Lasko – Saami History Blog

Although Christmas traditions are a relatively recent among the Sami and Sami culture. My father, who was born on the 25th December 1914, told me that in his youth he noticed that the Swedes had Christmas trees. Of course, he also wanted a Christmas tree at his home in Alesdis (Eagle Bay).

With his younger brother they skied around 3 mile over the lake Tjeggelvas to Guosak. “Guosak” means in Saami language where the fir trees growing. There cut down a tree and began to drag it across the lake to their home.

In the middle of the lake, they met an elderly Saami from Ales Giehtje. Ales Giehtje means in Saami language “The west end” of the lake Tjeggelvas. The older Saami man recommended the young people that they should trimming the tree and take away all the sprigs. Then the tree will be easier to transport. My father explained that they had been cutting a “Jåvvlåguossa” (Christmas tree in Saami). The older Sami explained that there are no Christmas trees – just trees – and asked which trees would only grows during Christmas?

Back home my father set up the Christmas treewith no decorations. My grandfather Nila arrived home in the evening from the reindeer hearding. My grandfather spoke no Swedish, and had never heard of Swedish Christmas traditions. In addition, my parents lived completely cut off from the outside world with no road, electricity, telephone, running water or other amenities. The first thing my grandfather wondered was; Why there was a tree in the house? The Christmas tree was not very long-lived. It was takend out after a few days. My grandfather thought it was youthful stupidity to take in a tree into the house and for what?

With this little Christmas story from historic day in the mountains, I wish all of you, who read this blog, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017!

 Lars-Nila Lasko

Guhkkin davvin Dávggáid vuolde sabmá suolggai Sámieanan!







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