Holiday Traditions of Native American Cultures Throughout Alaska

December 2, 2016 9:57 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

For the majority of people in America, the holidays are a time to gather around the dinner table with close and extended family to share good food and drinks. Later, some families may exchange holiday gifts or participate in particular traditions out of respect for their religious or other cultural beliefs. Of course you know how you and your family celebrate the holidays, and you might even get to see how your friends and neighbors celebrate. But what about people and cultures that have been around for a long time—like Native American groups? What are their traditions?

Learning of others’ holiday traditions can be fascinating, even if you only get a snapshot of another culture’s customs. So, before browsing through all the beautiful native gifts in Fairbanks, AK from Arctic Travelers Gift Shop, take a few minutes to read about some the holiday traditions of Native American cultures throughout Alaska.

Orthodox Christmas celebrations

Many Alaska Native cultures following the Orthodox Christian church observe the older Julian calendar. This means their Christmas is in January rather than in December, which is when the majority of America celebrates Christmas day. One interesting fact about Orthodox Christmas Day is that it is not celebrated for just a day—it’s a celebration that goes for a week, and can even be extended several more days.

Which Alaska Native cultures celebrate this way? Many Yupik people, for example, see Orthodox Christmas as a significant celebration based around the church and their beliefs, and rarely do they view it as a time to shop for popular native gifts in Fairbanks, AK. Whether living in a tight-knit village or in a more populated city or town somewhere in Alaska, the Yupik people look forward to taking part in this special tradition.

The Handsome Fellow

Many Native Americans in the United States refer to the more classically known Santa Claus as “the Handsome Fellow” (when translated into English). The traditional figure of Santa is said by many cultures worldwide to bring presents, candies and other treats to children during Christmas. As the legend goes, this handsome fellow began (and still continues) to hand over a variety of gifts to each tribal chief to divide among the people in their village during the holiday season.

Yet not all Native American parents or elders tell their small children that the Handsome Fellow is the person who leaves gifts and treats for them on Christmas Day. In fact, some children believe Santa Claus is the one who paid them a holiday visit. No matter what a particular Native American group believes, their children are taught and understand the meaning of sharing with others.

Now that you know a little more about the way Native American cultures observe holiday traditions, consider incorporating it into your gift giving. This holiday season, make sure your gifts come from the heart and have meaning. For a wide selection of authentic native gifts in Fairbanks, AK, we invite you to visit Arctic Travelers Gift Shop. Feel free to contact us with any questions about our Native American and Alaskan products!

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