February 6th is celebrated as the indigenous Sami people’s day in Norway and in the other Scandinavian countries. This is an official flag day in Norway and the flag is flown on all official buildings.
The day marks the first Sami congress, held in 1917 in Trondheim where Norwegian and Swedish Sami first came together. In 1992 the Sami Congress adopted the resolution to celebrate the Sami National Day, and the day has been celebrated ever since it was recognized by the Norwegian Storting in 1993.
Celebrated all over the country
The day is marked differently in different places. Sami week in Tromsø, for example, features reindeer racing, lasso throwing championship, a Sami market and more, while in Oslo, the carillon in Oslo City Hall plays the Sami national anthem as the Sami flag is raised. In Finnmark, the day is celebrated in schools and kindergartens during the day, followed by a church service and cultural activities, and of course Sami food. Today about 40 000 Sami live in Norway.
Protecting Sami culture
Norway was the first country to sign the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (also known as ILO 169) in 1990, which formally recognized the Sami as an indigenous people. Norway has ever since been devoted to protecting the language, culture and environment of the Sami people. As a result of the Sami Act of 1987, the Sami also have their own Sami Parliament (the Samediggi) elected by and amongst the Samis.
For a long time the Sami were an oppressed people, with their culture in danger of dying out. Today the Sami culture stands stronger than that of most other aboriginal people in the world. Several festivals are held annually, and Sami musicians are often seen performing on major venues in Norway.
For those in Budapest interested in Sami culture we would like to draw your attention to tomorrow’s screening of the Norwegian documentary Suddenly Sami. For more information about this event click here.