Today, we're traveling to Greenland with Carole of Arctic Adventures, who lives there with her family.
Christmas in Greenland
Christmas is absolutely the “most Wonderful Time of the Year” in Greenland! By the time December rolls around, we are already immersed in winter’s darkness and cold. The Christmas lights and decorations serve to light up the town and lift everyone’s spirits! Along with the biting cold, the velvety darkness, and the stinging snow, you can feel the joy of the season!
Christmas in Greenland is a time spent with family. Each Sunday in December families gather together to eat meals, play games, and just spend time with each other. Everywhere you go people are excited and happy about the season. Because Greenland is the closest country to the North Pole, Greenlanders claim; “The real Santa Claus lives in Greenland”. As a matter of fact Santa’s sleigh and mailbox are right here in our town. Santa plays a prominent role in Christmas for the Greenlanders.
Christmas is a Church Holiday
Christmas in Greenland is a “Church Holiday” which means many people in town will go to the State church for the Christmas services held on each of the four Advent Sundays as well as the 23rd and 24th of December. However, this does not mean Greenlanders celebrate the true meaning of the season, Jesus Christ. Sadly, you won’t see a nativity scene or any reference to the birth of Jesus anywhere in town (except for in our home and church). During the Christmas season we have many opportunities to explain and celebrate the birth of Christ!
Christmas in Greenland begins on the first Sunday of Advent with the tree lighting in the town’s center. It’s always a well-attended, happy affair. There is also a Christmas Bazaar held in the towns’ gymnasium, but at precisely 4:00 in the afternoon everyone will be in the football field surrounding the tree waiting for Santa’s arrival and the lighting of the tree. Santa usually arrives by dogsledge and begins the countdown to light the tree.
Christmas Eve Celebrations
Christmas in Greenland is celebrated on the 24th of December. After midnight on the 23rd, the lady of the house sets up the tree and decorates every inch of the living room with garland, stickers, streamers, etc… The children awake in the morning to a Christmas tree, festive decorations and gifts!
The day is spent with family and eating. You will find their favorite delicacy, mattak, on almost every table. Mattak is frozen whale skin and blubber eaten raw. The meal usually consists of fish soup, duck and potatoes. The 25th and 26th of December are the last of the “3 days of Christmas.” These days are spent in more visits with friends and family.
Christmas in Greenland is one of our favorite times of the year. We enjoy visiting and having visitors! People are more open and friendly during the Holidays and it is a great time for outreaches. We always do a lot of baking and take Christmas goodies to all the neighbors and town workers. We take advantage of every open door to share about Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection.
Our first few years in Greenland we were often asked, “Do Baptists celebrate Christmas?” We love every chance to explain that “Yes, we do! We also remember His death and celebrate His resurrection!” People are more apt to stop in for special Christmas church services which are always followed by hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.
Our little church family gets excited about our special Christmas program and the Christmas dinner/party following the service. We love this time of year to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, to enjoy the time we spend together as family, to give and receive gifts, and to share the wondrous news with others of God’s Greatest gift to all mankind!
Carole Shull and her family live and minister in Greenland. Connect with her and follow their adventures at Arctic Adventures!