While it is winter on the Northern hemisphere, I would like to bring up some genuine winter topics. I will say something about the times when I visited the far North of Europe and had a quick glance into the life in these austere areas of the Arctic Circle.
To start with, I will introduce two museums that present answers to travellers’ questions. When you are (just) a traveler, you are not qualified to know how the life is on your destination. However visiting a good local museum gives you a clear(er) idea about it, thus making your trip complete. It is the heart of the #ArtOfDiscovery travel concept.
Origin of the word “Arctic”
Let me guess: when you saw the title of this article, you likely thought (hoped?) I would not mention Greece in this article. After all, what the heck has Greece to do with the Arctic Circle? The answer is easy, the word Arctic is just one more word that originates from – Greek.
Since the prehistoric times, people have found some curiosity in looking at the sky. As a result, they defined constellations, groups of stars that form a particular shape on the clear night sky. Two of them are specially known for defining the Northern skies, known as (Latin) Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, or in Greek, Arktos Mikra and Arktos Megali, meaning Small and Big Bear. To sum it up, Arktos (or Arkouda in modern times) means “bear” in Greek, while Arktikos means “near the bear” or “on the way north”. Mythology is everywhere, isn’t it?
Most importantly, the area known as the Arctic is defined by the polar night circle, at 66 degrees 33′ of latitude. I found myself on that exact coordinate in this time 5 years ago, between Rovaniemi, the capital of the Finland’s region of Lapland and the Norwegian coast of the Arctic Ocean.
Life in the Arctic Circle: The Simplicity
For a good and deep understanding of the Arctic circle, I recommend a winter trip. The never-ending darkness, snowy fields, frozen lakes, and extremely low temperatures are only some of the things to experience for a good understanding of local cultures.
Now, I have spent most of my life in Southern Europe, in Croatia or in three other countries with the somewhat comparable climate area (Portugal, Greece, Italy). During the winter time in these countries, many complain about the lack of sunshine, good weather, beach time and ability to enjoy the outdoors.
On the other hand, minus ten feels perfectly warm in the Arctic Circle. If there is no wind of snowfall, it invites you to take off your winter cap and unzip the jacket. Some humans live their whole lives in that area. The Sami people are an ethnical group living across parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. I visited their authentic village in the area called Inari, in Finland not far from the Norwegian border.
The photo above was taken at about 10 am, ten in the freakin’ morning. For a comparison, on my place in Croatia it looks like this at about 7 am in this time of the year. Finally, only simple life plays the role in these vague area beyond the Arctic circle.
First, you saw that guy in a Christmas movie or some holiday commercials. Second, you never thought how different could he be from a deer. Finally, he is a simple domestic animal. You can feed him and play with him. He helps local communities to go from one side to another. They don’t always drive cars.
As for Christmas, at that time I also visited the Santa Claus Village, but I will leave it for some next article in this joyful December series.
How to take the most of what you have?
We need to aware that the Arctic circle is quite affected by the climate change. You can find some interesting information about it in museums. It is quite a moving and emotional experience to see the difference between the lifestyles of these Sami people and the world we know, far away from the Arctic. When you are there, you easily forget how it is elsewhere.
These people have some special bond with their surroundings, along with the lack of materialistic views about things and lands. After all, you need the food and shelter, what else? Many things can be done from simple sources, as this old Finnish saying clarifies…
- Ptolemy’s Almagest – First printed edition 1515
- My 2015 articles – Sunrise in the Museum & Reindeer Farm
- Arktikum Rovaniemi official website
- SIIDA Inari official website
Since viewers of my stories on Instagram expressed a desire to hear more about the Sami culture, another article will be out soon!