For time immemorial, Reindeer herding has played a pivotal role in Sami culture, identity and heritage. Skills that have been passed on from generation to generation continue strong to this day. It should be noted, however, that it is a lifestyle that is under constant threat from external factors such as global warming and mining, for example.
It’s an interesting fact that the Sami people are believed to be the first people to ever begin herding and taming animals. Initially, they were used as a means of moving equipment and supplies over long-distances. These days, reindeer herding is focused mainly upon the production of meat.
So, what are the seasons, and what precisely do they mean?
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.
Čakčadadálvi: Čakčadadálvi 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 is time to earmark the new calves. In August-September, the bulls are also slaughtered before the heat.