Marie Louise Somby/

The 8 Sami seasons

In Sami culture, eight seasons are counted. All seasons are closely linked to the reindeer’s natural migration and the reindeer owner’s tasks during a year.

The reindeer owners supervise the herd all year round, but some tasks belong to each season. This is an example of a typical reindeer husbandry year, and the work tasks vary from siida to siida.

A siida is a unique form of organization for the reindeer husbandry Sami and consists of a group of reindeer owners who practice reindeer husbandry together in specific areas.

This is how the year of reindeer husbandry is divided:

  • Čakča: Čakča means autumn and mating season. In October-November, the reindeer migrate to the autumn pasture, and here the reindeer also have a mating season.
  • Čakčadálvi: Čakčadálvi means autumn-winter and harvest time. In November-December, the reindeer owner gathers his animals for slaughter and marking, and the move to winter grazing is also underway.
  • Dálvi: Dálvi means winter and winter grazing. From December to February, the reindeer are on winter pasture. The reindeer dig grazing pits to find the lichen under the snow, but also save as much energy as possible.
  • Giđđadálvi: Giđđadálvi means spring winter and in February / March the animals are still on winter pasture. Throughout the winter, reindeer owners check snow and grazing conditions to ensure that the animals have the best grazing conditions.
  • Giđđa: Giđđa means spring and in April / May the snow starts to melt. The reindeer pull down to the calf areas.
  • Giđđageassi: Giđđageassi means spring-summer and in May-June it is calving time. The simles pull down to fixed calving areas, where they give birth to one calf each.
  • Geassi: Geassi means summer and in June-August the reindeer graze in summer, often in the lowlands and along the coast. The calves grow fast to become large and strong enough to survive a long winter.
  • Čakčageassi: Čakčageassi means autumn-summer and it’s time to earmark the new calves. In August-September, the bulls are also slaughtered before the heat.

In winter, the reindeer herd thrives best on the plateau, where they can dig down for food under the snow. In summer, the reindeer migrate down to coastal areas where they can find nutritious plants and important minerals. The spring and autumn grazing is normally halfway between these two pastures, where the reindeer owners have set up dividing fences for marking and selecting animals.

Did you know that reindeer migrate up to 600 kilometers each year along ancient migration routes between seasonal pastures?

In addition, the months are also named after typical characteristics of the month. For example, January is called ođđajagimánnu in Sami, or the New Year month. The Sami name for May is miessemánnu, or calf month in Norwegian. October is called golggotmánnu and translated into Norwegian this means the month of heat.

In Alta, the family business Sami Siida is located, where you can experience Sami culture up close. Here you can get a tour, ride with reindeer, try lasso throwing and taste a really good Sami meal; biđus.

Learn some phrases in Sami

Sami is a verbal language with a lot of grammar. But that does not mean that it is difficult to learn!

  • Bures means hello
  • Lihkku beivviin means happy birthday
  • Eadni means mom and ahčči means dad
  • Beana means dog
  • Mun ràhkistan you mean I love you