New Year’s in the Tundra

For the first time in my life I celebrated the arrival of the new year with the reindeer herders. I managed after a lot of difficulties to arrive at the camp site North of the Russian town of Mezen’ on the 30th December. There is not much celebration during that time of the year, when the herders move to a new camp site almost every day before they reach the winter pasture in the Arkhangelsk region. We are now just below the Arctic Circle and the sun is not yet appearing above the horizon. Fortunately the temperature dropped on New Year’s night from plus zero to something under minus 10°C. At night it will become minus 27°C. From afar we could see some lights of the fireworks in Mezen’. On the 31st December we crossed the sacred place of Kozmin perelesok. I am sharing my reindeer sledge with Natasha. She and her mother offered a beautiful porcelain cup in that forest and I put some coins with the many offerings that almost everybody leaves there while crossing. Unfortunately some people do not understand the Nenets tradition of offerings and just leave some unnecessary things in the belief that it helps to avoid misfortune. In the morning we pack all of our stuff in the reindeer sledges, take the canvas from the roof and remove the four walls of the tent. The draft reindeer for the sledges are chosen from the herd of trained bulls. When everything is ready the caravan goes to the next camp-site. Today I was lucky to catch the mobile phone net next to Mezen’. Next time I will have internet connection I hope I can let you know more about my recent fieldwork for the ORHELIA project with the reindeer herders of the Kanin peninsula.



About Stephan Dudeck

Anthropologist at the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Centre for Arctic Social Studies at the European University at Saint Petersburg and the Centre of Arctic and Siberian Exploration at the Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
This entry was posted in Oral History, Reindeer Herding, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to New Year’s in the Tundra

  1. Audrey says:

    Hi Stephan,

    I’m with CBC Radio in Prince George.

    Wondering if you can do an interview Monday morning about the session on Northern Drinking you’re chairing next week.

    Can you call me right away please? I’m at 250-562-6701

    Thank you,

    Audrey McKinnon
    Associate Producer, CBC Radio

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