The sun is back – Tasiilaq, Greenland

Child in East Greenland Sermiligaq, photo Malin Skinnar

Ninteen small yellow paper suns were lifted high into the wind and the children’s song echoed miles around.

“Ajaajaa the long winter, the deep snow. – The boundary is reached. Those up here say so..

The return of the torch in the sky

Girls in folk costume, ittoqqortoormiit, east Greenland 1993

Ljusets återkomst 

Greenland, Tasiilaq, boys. Photo Malin Skinnar

The midwinter darkness had begun to relax its grip on the Arctic and I met little Kista.

She had just cut out a yellow paper sun as a greeting to the return of the torch in the sky.

Kista’s daycare centre group would welcome the sun.

People celebrating like they always did, some months after the constellation of Aasuutit had appeared on the horizon to the east.

We were to dress up finely, as the Inuits used to do, and the daycare staff put thermoses of hot cocoa into the children’s small haversacks.

Tasilaaq, Inuit girls. Photo Malin Skinnar

The sandwich boxes were filled with fine festive food in honour of the sun.

The children were going to eat both dried seal meat and fine black berries with oil from seal blubber.

The everyday Danish-type food at the daycare centre had no place in in the haversacks.

Kista showed her own food bag and smiled all over her face: dried, plaited, blood-filled seal intestines lay like liquorice sticks in a fine bunch!

The snow was hard and the children trotted off in their colourful overalls up the hill.

Each one held tightly onto a small flower stick with a yellow paper sun glued to its end.

It was hard to walk, because all the children wanted to look at their own suns and also to tread in the small footprints of the children in front.

After much tumbling about, blowing of noses and taping-on of sun rays we reached the crevice on the cliff where the first rays of the sun could be seen.

The children knew that the small stars of Aasuutit had hunted the sun up out of the dark and that the blinking of the Pole Star came as the message that she — the sun — was here.

A golden glow spread along the horizon and the first rays of the sun touched the red cliff tops on the Kissaviannguit hill.

— Nineteen small yellow paper suns were lifted high into the wind and the children’s song echoed for miles around.

“Ajaajaa the long winter, the deep snow. — The boundary is reached. Those up there say so. . . Ajaajaa, ajaajaa!

Yes, yes — it will be glorious — pleasant warmth. The newly emergent makes us glad. Ajaajaa, ajaajaa! Such happy people — Ajaajaa!

Inuit boys, east Greenland

Text/ Photo: Malin Skinnar, storyteller from Sweden in love with Greenland

Child in East Greenland Sermiligaq, photo Malin Skinnar
Malin Skinnar video creator, storyteller and visual artist