The eight Sámi seasons

Lola Akinmade Åkerströmimagebank.sweden.seEveryone has a history, and a relationship with their home area. Those who walk through eight seasons through the Sámi cultural landscape leave their footprints on the land. For many it is a landscape of survival and everyday life.

The landscape has a long history of settlement, business and organization. The magical landscape is created by myths, memories, sacred place and rituals, and by the presence of ancestors. The landscape is also regarded as a political area, as we see the consequences of political decisions in the landscape.

The story belongs to the landscape. In fact, it is the landscape that is the storyteller. The elders whisper that the Sámi landscape cares for the young. Thus the landscape gives birth to all animals, birds, fish, insects, people and stories.

Watch Torbjörn Jakobsson’s award-winning pictures on a Sami family’s eight seasons.

Photo by: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/


EarlyWinter_Fotograf-MikkoNikkinenTjakttjadálvvie – Early Winter – a time of wandering

The sun goes down below the horizon, leaving us in silence and longing. The reindeer are divided into smaller herds. Cautiously, they wander to their winter grazing lands; the ground is sensitive and we must tread on her with care. She sleeps under the glittering blanket of snow; the Northern Lights – the light of the eyes of those who have passed away – watch over us; the stars gather in recognizable patterns so that we can find our way back, to the new year that is coming.

Photo by: Mikko Nikkinen/

Dálvvie – winter – a time of caring

Soil and land are protected by the thick blanket of snow. Under trillions of sparkling snow crystals, nature draws breath as she sets about her delicate work. In its severity, the harsh winter cares for the reindeer, enforcing the slow movements in which their survival lies. To get at the lichen, hooves dig down into the almost metre-deep snow. Every day, nurturing winter ensures that life goes on.

It is only the furred one that rests in its den. The one who from the very beginning of creation, has been blessed with a long rest throughout the hardest of all seasons. Bestowing its promising light and caring beams, the sun finds its way back to the northern firmament. The snow crystals sparkle in their gratitude.

Gijrradálvvie – Early Spring – a time of awakening

Each day lengthens, a ptarmigan step at a time, awakening to life. Icicles shed tears of joy. The awakening conjures forth movement. Female reindeer in calf, bearing new life within, gaze towards the northwest. Underneath the snow blanket, the Earth´s desire to awaken rolls back the blanket of winter. The female reindeer know. Soon it will be time to return to the same snow-free patches that have welcomed their calves year after year.

Gijrra – Spring – a time of returning

The days and nights are light now. A deafening rumble releases the ice. The living watercourses tickle the earth, enticing the greenery to return. May is Miessemánnu, the calf month. It is then that the young take their first faltering steps on the safe, familiar patches of snow-free ground on the mountain slopes. To these same familiar grounds they return to year after year. The calves gather strength, plucking up courage for life’s wanderings.

Gijrragiessie – Early Summer –a time of growth

Early summer, the Earth slowly clothes itself in green, adorns itself in verdure. Cautiously, nature stretches out into the warm air. Crops gather strength. The leaves of the trees become bolder, allowing the wind to play amongst them. Mosquitos drive the reindeer herds up to the glaciers. People prepare to move to the mountains, where the calves have been born, where they have grown secure in the care of the herd.

Giessie – Summer – a time of contemplation

The short but bright summer keeps people and reindeer awake. Calves must be marked. At last, the reindeer can feast on the earth’s bounty. They must eat themselves strong to survive. Soon, they will be putting on their beautiful, rugged, autumn coats. Antlers are growing, and we watch how the reindeer proudly develop in stature.

Autumn_Fotograf-FredrikBroman_390x390Tjakttjagiessie – Early Autumn – a time of harvesting

The light, the warmth, the sun and the rain have brought out the best from the earth’s rich larder. The bull reindeer are magnificent as they prepare for the mating season. The earth brings forth her gifts – berries, herbs, mushrooms – to all of us living beings. We hunt. We gather the bounty of the earth; harvesting, undressing her.

Photo by: Fredrik Broman/

Tjakttja – Autumn – a time of change

The presence of frost grips the earth; the yellowed grass, patterned by frost, lies on the ground like grey hair. Another year has passed. Time drives the earth to rest; she prepares for the little death. The time of darkness, skábma, approaches; tales of the mystery of life help us through the darkness.

Text by: Åsa Simma