The Lapland culture is an interesting mix of influences from many directions
Lapland culture is a mix
The Lapland culture is a mingling of ideas and traditions different parts of Northern Scandinavia -
of north and south, east and west. It is a mixture of Lapp and Finnish, but also Swedish, Norwegian and even Russian.
The vanished times of logging camps or fighting the Arctic Ocean in open boats is a backdrop of
the modern culture of Lapland. And the gold rush of the early 1900s has added spice to the culture.
The dream of finding gold is still there.
The peoples of Lapland build their identity on nature because nature gave them their livelihood -
the daily bread. The nature of Lapland is an important factor of that cultural backdrop.
The Lapland culture is interwoven with nature and the ways we utilised nature, have we made a living from nature.
In all parts of Lapland you'll see the Saami way of life where the reindeer is a central girder.
Some of the Sami cultural elements are easily detected because they are different.
One such element
is the traditional Lapp costume with all its vivid colours. Persons wearing these garments really stand out from any crowd.
Cultural variations within Lapland
Lapland is a comparatively huge area. Because of the size of Lapland the culture varies somewhat
from place to place. The nature is different. People living on the Arctic coast had to develop one
set of tools to survive.
In the Lule Valley with its great Lule river and the deep woods a totally different set of tools were needed.
People living in the border areas like Pasvik river valley, Tana river valley or Torne river valley
are used to different kinds of influences.
Pasvik river valley
In the Pasvik area the influences from from the Russian side have been tangible. Before World War II
the border was an open one with Norwegians on one side of the border and Finns on the other side.
But after the war the new neighbours became Russia and the border was closed. But today the contact across
the border has increased a lot.
Tana river valley
Locally in the Tana river valley the national border between Finland and Norway has always been looked
upon as "non-existent". People have been moving freely across the border. The authorities have tried to
regulate the free border crossings in different ways. But somehow the people on both sides of the border
feel like a family.
Torne river valley
In the Torne river valley the fishing traditions are the same on both sides of the Finnish-Swedish border.
When travelling on the Swedish side of the border you feel a strong Finnish influence. If you know some of
the Finnish language, you'll see so many Finnish place names that you may think that you are in Finland.
And in this border area you'll also find a special language spoken. It is called meän-kieli. It is a
kind of a hybrid language - a mixture of Finnish and Swedish.
In the south-eastern parts of Finnish Lapland logging has always been important part of the lifestyle.
You can still feel a touch of the old logging camp tradition in the Savukoski villages.
Food In Lapland
When I come to new places one of my first questions is this: What's their food like?
If you are staying in hotels or bed and breakfasts, the breakfast will be much the same as you get all over Scandinavia:
*Different kinds of bread
*Salads, cucumbers, red beets and peppers
In Norwegian Lapland you'll have to taste the brown cheese which is a specialty for Norway.
If you make your own food in your camper or home car, you can get most kinds of "international" food at the supermarkets and grocery stores. At
small villages the variety of foods is of course smaller. But you'll manage quite well with what you get.
And you'll easily find international things like pizzas, kebabs, hamburgers, potato chips and so on.
Tradition and local spirit are expressed in our food traditions. Mother nature provides many raw products which are combined in many ways. Fish
(both inland and salt water types), cloudberry, reindeer, game bird and moose meat are important main ingredients of our cuisine.
The sauna is an important institution in Finnish Lapland as well as in the rest of Finland.
Read more about the sauna
Read more about the Lapp culture which is a part of the Lapland culture
The Juhls Silver Gallery
at Kautokeino is a masterpiece of good taste and architecture and craft. Read more here
Where the Reindeer Roam