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Everything you need to know about Sami Day in Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Everything you need to know about Sami Day in Norway
Norway celebrates Sami Day on February 6th. Pictured is the Sami flag. Photo by Thom Reijnders on Unsplash

February 6th marks Sami Day in Norway, and for more than 30 years events have been held across Norway to celebrate the occasion.


All public buildings in Norway will hoist the Sami flag, and events and exhibitions will be held to mark Sami Day.

The day marks the anniversary of the first Sami Assembly, held in Trondheim in 1917.

The gathering saw Sami people from Norway and Sweden, who felt that their culture, language and livelihoods were being threatened, convene in Trondheim.

The event was chaired by Elsa Laula Renberg, with other female activists also playing an important role.

The assembly aimed to cover the issues of reindeer grazing, legislation, schooling, and organisation.

Who are the Sami?

The Sami refer to an indigenous minority of around 100,000 people spread over the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, the Sami have traditionally lived off reindeer herding and fishing.

The relationship between the indigenous Sami and Norway has been fraught.

Beginning in the 1700s, the Norwegian government carried out the official policy of Norwegianisation, which aimed to assimilate the non-Norwegian-speaking population into an ethnically and culturally uniform society.

The policy was initially targeted at the Sami people of northern Norway.

A commission ruled last year that the Norwegianisation of the Sami has had severe consequences, which are still felt today.


“Norway does not have a history to be proud of when it comes to the treatment of minorities,” Dagfinn Høybråten, who chaired the commission, said of the report’s findings.

Over the last few years, Norway has found itself locked in a battle with Sami reindeer herders over wind farms. The Sami havelaunched several protests after the Supreme Court found that the wind farm in Fosen violated the human rights of the Sami in the area.

How is Sami Day celebrated?

The day is marked by public authorities flying the Sami flag. In Oslo, the town hall bells ring the Sami anthem.

Oslo’s ceremonial mayor, rather than the leader of the city government, holds a traditional breakfast with the Sami people.

Other parts of the country plan a day or even a week of festivities. The week falling on the 6th in Tromsø is Sami week, when the yearly festival showcases many traditional Sami sports and events. In addition to talks and events, there is also a Sami winter market.

Kids in school may learn more about the Sami people or have Sami come to the school to hold workshops, lessons or talks. Alternatively, they may have been working on school projects in the days and weeks leading up to Sami Day.

Food plays an important role in Sami Day, and there may be workshops and showcases of Sami food. At such showcases, reindeer features heavily on the menu.

Marking the day with events and celebrations has become increasingly popular since 1992 (the first Sami day).

However, the day isn’t a public holiday, so nobody is given the day off work or school.


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