Our final days in Jokkmokk, and the Winter Market.

Posted on February 14th, 2015 by

Hej allihopa, och Glad Alla Hjärtans Dag! Hello everyone, and Happy Valentine’s Day! My name is Zach Gardner and I’m from Edina, MN. I’m currently a sophomore at Gustavus, pursuing a major in Scandinavian Studies. As you may have read in the last post, my friend Patrick was the one who told me about this study abroad program, and I was immediately interested. As of now we are currently in our third city, Mora, but I’ll be telling you all about our last week in Jokkmokk!


At the beginning of our last week we had to move to a new living location. We went from a wonderful hostel, Villa Åsgård, to the slightly less accommodating Jokkmokk Pistolklubb. Yes, we stayed in a gun range. However, it was kind of like a giant sleepover and I think we all enjoyed it in the end. On our last day at the Pistol Club our host, Sven, let us have a little shooting competition with air pistols. It only cost 20 kronor (about $2.50) and was a lot of fun!

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Other than our fun stay at the Pistol Club, the Winter Conference and Winter Market also happened during our last week. The Winter Conference is an annual international conference in Jokkmokk, focusing on the environment. This year some of the topics discussed were climate change and how it affects life in the Arctic (and other areas of the world), and also how we can create a more sustainable society in our changing world. The conference took place over two and a half days, and featured a number of speakers from all over the world. The end of the Winter Conference signified the start of the Winter Market!


The Winter Market is a tradition of people coming from all over Scandinavia (and even the world) to sell their handicraft, food, and celebrate. The first time it occurred was in 1605, making this year the 410th market! The market occupied the main two streets in Jokkmokk, filled with vendors and tables of handicraft, and took place over three days. Jokkmokk has a population of about 2,800, and the market usually attracts about 30,000 people, so it got pretty crowded!


The Sámi people traditionally inhabited Jokkmokk, so a lot of the items sold were very cultural and well made. Some of the hand made tools that could be bought were wooden bowls, knives, bracelets, and even reindeer hide! A lot of the items had some form of reindeer antler in them. There were also a lot of modern utensils made with reindeer antler, suck as bottle openers and back scratchers. Beyond the handicrafts that were sold during the market, you could also buy clothes and food. There were sweaters from Norway, ponchos and vests from the Himalayas, and even wool socks made with Alpaca fur. But of course, there were also plenty of items made right in the Jokkmokk area. As far as food goes, it probably wouldn’t have been possible to go hungry during the market. In the center there was a delicious kebab stand, and also places where you could buy hot dogs, burgers, cheese, and many more things. But you didn’t have to eat it all there! You could buy very nice cheese and take it home, and maybe eat it with some of the incredibly delicious salami that was being sold. And I can’t forget to mention the dried reindeer and moose jerky. As if this wasn’t enough, the biggest food item was the candy and sweets. From rows of licorice to mountains of various “bolls,” there was a large enough variety to fill almost anyone’s taste. There was also a vendor making different kinds of candied nuts, which made that part of the street smell delicious! The streets were constantly filled with people, and at sometimes even reindeer!

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The last day of the market was a big day, as one of the members from our group was able to participate in the reindeer races! Lindsay Reiners proudly represented the USA and our group as she valiantly lay upon the sled behind her reindeer. There were a total of four races, each consisting of two racers and reindeers. The races were a single lap around a simple oval, and we’re exciting to watch! There was even one guy who made it almost the whole way standing up in the snow. As the racers gradually went through the different heats, the last one was a fierce match up between the champion and Lindsay. As she raced around the track while getting snow kicked in her face, she came out in first place! Although it was cold and windy, we were all excited to see Lindsay win the race.



While we all enjoyed our time in Jokkmokk, the Winter Market and reindeer race were a good way to conclude our stay in the Arctic. As we say goodbye to the really cold and snowy part of Sweden, we also say goodbye to the Sámi and their rich culture that we were fortunate enough to study. We now leave Sápmi and head down to Mora through 18 hours of trains and buses.


Tack så mycket för att läsa, och tills nästa gang, hejdå! Thanks so much for reading, and until the next time, goodbye!



  1. Roland says:

    Tack för dina ord och bilder, Zack! Roligt att du trivdes i Jokkmokk (även på Pistolklubbens golv). Hoppas ni har det bra i Mora.


  2. Barb Hartwell says:

    HI Zach! Thanks so much for such a detailed and interesting summary of your final days in Jokkmokk. We are so enjoying all these blogs and look forward to the next entry!!!
    Much love, Grandma & Grandpa in Edina, MN