Nice souvenirs to bring home from Lapland

In the shops of Rovaniemi and specially at the Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle you can find a lot of special Lappish souvenirs to buy. My aim here is not to mention them all. That would be absolutely impossible. I will mention just a few.

I, myself, find the hand-made dolls from the Arctic Doll Factory really adorable. They are all dressed up in traditional dresses of the Lappish people. The dresses are made from normal fabric but also using reindeer furs. On the home page of the factory (unfortunately not in English) you can see there are dolls of all kinds of lengths, boys and girls, and in differently colored dresses, and you can order your own favorite from there, too. The factory was founded in 1953 and is celebrating 60 years this year. After I had dreamed about getting one of these dolls for myself for several years I finally decided and bought myself an adorable couple; Matti and Maila.

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Taigakoru is a goldsmith’s workshop for silver and gold jewelry in Rovaniemi. From the home page of Taigakoru you find all the different jewelry they manufacture. One of the most well-known part of the collection is the collection of symbols from the ancient shaman drums.

The shaman drum was used by the shamans of the Northern peoples in their ceremonies. Shamans were healers and predicted the future. They called on the spirits for help by beating a drum with a drumstick made from reindeer bone until they fell into a trance. The symbols appear on the drum’s different parts. The upper part of the drum skin represented the heavens, the middle part earth and earthly life and the lower part Tuonela, the underworld. The shaman used the symbols on the various parts of the drum to foretell events. Each symbol has its own meaning.

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The Sun and good weather, particularly during the reindeer calving season, made crops grow and it brought good fortune. After midwinter, people held festivals when the sun first edged over the horizon. They made sacrifices to it so that it would restore and bring vitality to creation. The sun has a very special significance in the Arctic, as during the period of the polar night in winter the sun does not rise above the horizon at all, and on the other hand in the summertime it does not set at all.

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Other symbols from the Shaman drum made to ornaments in silver by Taigakoru are: The Moon, Ukko or the God of Thunder, Akka or the Goddess of fertility, the God of hunting, the Black-throated loon, the Crane, the Bear, the Reindeer, the Wolf, the Beaver, the Boat, the Salmon and the Rota.

Other famous jewelry of Taigakoru are the Guardian angel and the Cradle ball. There are also all kinds of Lappish animals and plants in silver. From the home page you can also order your own jewelry.

Marttiini has manufactured knives in Rovaniemi, Finland, since Janne Marttiini established the knife factory in 1928. The Marttiini product range covers knives for hunting, fishing, camping, collectors, household and professional use.

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Inspired by the ancient tales from Lapland (again). The drum at the end of the handle, made of reindeer horn bone, drives away bad spirits and protects the user. The knife is decorated with the same kind of old Lappish figures that have been used at the magical drums of Lappish shamans, as the Taigakoru uses in their production. As you can notice, these figures are the symbols for the ancient Lappish people and their culture, which manufactures these days want to share with tourists and locals, who search for the real Lappish mystique.

Some cute Lappish souvenirs are made by Peeva tuote; a small home factory for elf themes, Lapland themes and angel themes products. Each and every souvenir is special and hand made, often with material from the forests of Lapland. There are not two of the same kind! The most adorable is the doll house with elves Peeva tuote has on show near the stand on the Lordi square in Rovaniemi, where you can buy these products.

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The Sámis and their reindeer

Tourists arrive in Rovaniemi and wonder: Where are the Sámis and the reindeer? Well, I can tell, there are a few opportunities to see Sámis and reindeer also in Rovaniemi, but mostly the Finnish Sámis are seen in their own region – in the upper north of Finland where they have lived for centuries. On the map you see the area where the Sámis live in Scandinavia and Russia and they even have their own flag.

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Rovaniemi belongs to Lapland and is even the capital of Lapland but the city seems to be just like any other city most of the time of the year. The sámis turn up in the city on their yearly sámi meeting in January; the Sámi thing. In February there are reindeer races both on the trotting track of Rovaniemi as well as in the middle of the city center. These yearly events are popular for the tourists but also for the local people. At least I have attended these events several times. You are surprised how hard these reindeer really run! In the city of Rovaniemi there is even a police-reindeer, named Artturi. His mother was also a police-reindeer, Maija, but she unfortunately was killed by a car the other year.

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On the Arctic circle in the Santa Claus village you can meet sámis and their reindeer daily during tourist season around Christmas and also admire the beautiful dresses the sámis wear. By paying a small fee you can take a tour with some beautiful reindeer and you can also discuss the herding and the culture with a local sámi. Some years there has been arranged a sámi park also in the city center of Rovaniemi around Christmas.

 

 

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I am really crazy about reindeer. I just love these animals! At every opportunity I get I take photos of reindeer. I have got quite a few during these years. Mostly I see them out near the road, but on the Arctic circle they are so nicely fixed with ornaments and the reindeer brought there are so tame you can even touch them.

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The nicest ornaments on reindeer I saw on a trip once to the sámi area of Russia, Lovozero. We attended a reindeer market where the Russian sámis showed up their beautiful animals and also competed with them on reindeer races.

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In Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, there are also reindeer statues in the parks.  IMG_8394IMG_8045IMG_5520

The Sámi people, also spelled Saami, are the indigenous people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia. IMG_2972The Sámis are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. Their traditional languages are the Sámi languages and are classified as a branch of the Uralic language family. Traditionally, the Sámis have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding. Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding, with which about 10% of the Sámi are currently connected and 2,800 actively involved on a full-time basis. For traditional, environmental, cultural and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sámi people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.

shamantrummaFor tourist groups there is arranged meetings with an original sámi shaman. These meetings are surrounded by a lot of secrecy and it is very exciting for the tourists. The shaman sits in his Lappish tepee and by the fireplace he cooks his coffee, hits his drum and starts telling stories to the guests. At the end of the ceremony he makes some marks of soot from the fireplace in the forehead of the guests and tells them they will eventually return to Lapland one day in the shape of a reindeer. That is not a bad destiny, is it?

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