Photo: Ruben M Ramos/Shutterstock

6 Commandments for Living in Greenland

Greenland Culture
by Tina Egede Oct 2, 2017

1. Thou shalt love soccer.

Greenlanders loved playing soccer long before outsiders discovered our country. It is our national sport and Greenlanders will support their town team no matter how badly they play. There are tournaments all year long — indoor games in the winter and outdoor games in the summer. Every year a new town will arrange the national championship. You’re lucky if you live in the town or near it, because you get to go and watch the exciting games. The rest of the population watches it on television.

2. Thou shalt love meat.

It is our tradition to hunt and fish for food. We fish and hunt all year long — and we are tough enough to cut open dead animals without gagging or being grossed out.

There are few places where people are experimenting to grow vegetables such as celery and turnips and there is a farm where people grow potatoes, but this is relatively new to Greenlandic culture and you need to be a tower of strength with an incredible green thumb to achieve it.

3. Thou shalt appreciate nature.

Greenland is a massive country and 81% of it is covered in ice glacier. The towns are located on coasts, surrounded by mountains, and far away from each other; the only way to get from one to another is to sail or fly.

It’s harsh and isolated, but we Greenlanders love living in this magnificent nature and we want to keep it as pure as possible. Summer is the season where everything comes to life; plants, bushes, flowers and animals are everywhere. People go sailing, hiking, or camping. The ocean is filled with icebergs as big as buildings. During winter, bright white snow will cover the entire country, proving Greenland is the coolest place on earth. The most important rule in Greenland is: don’t litter!

4. Thou shalt be tough.

It can snow 9 months out of a year. The dry air and strong winds make winters brutally cold. The northernmost settlement does not get sunlight for an entire month in the winter and, in Nuuk, the capital, the sun will come up on the horizon and go back down after few hours.

We do not let the harsh climate affect our life. We still go to school and work. We still go grocery shopping or go for coffee. We just wear more layers of clothing. No biggie.

5. Thou shalt know Greenlandic.

Most of us speak Greenlandic and we are very proud of our language. Since Greenland was colonized by Denmark in the 1700s, the Danish language has become part of the culture. Most natives speak Greenlandic but more and more Greenlanders speak Danish. When I went to school for the first time, most of the school books were in Danish and I had to learn Danish fast.

Now, we have realized how unique our language is and we do not want it overtaken by Danish.

6. Thou shalt love your family.

Family life in Greenland is of utmost importance. A big part of our culture is gatherings — not just our parents and sibling, but with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. For every celebration, from birthdays to weddings, it is a tradition to have an open house where you serve Greenlandic dishes. Everyone you know will be invited and your house will be filled with people all day long. The settlements are small and we entertain ourselves with each other’s company.

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