June 21 – Greenland's National Day

Posted on June 21, 2014

Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but it is its own “autonomous” country. That means it mostly rules itself, separate from any influence by Denmark's government.

And it also means that it has its own flag and its own National Day (today!).

Greenland is the world's largest island, and it has the world's largest national park.

Greenland is the world's least densely populated country. This map of Greenland gives you a pretty good idea why:
Yes, Greenland is mostly covered
by a thick ice sheet. All the towns
are on the coastal areas.

Greenland is icier than Iceland, and Iceland is greener than Greenland – go figure!

According to Icelandic sagas, the Norwegian-born Erik the Red, who had earlier been exiled from Norway for killing someone, was ALSO exiled from Iceland, again for “some killings.” He and his family and many relatives and all of his thralls (his servants, or serfs) went sailing to find new lands to settle. They explored icy Greenland until they found a habitable area. When they settled there, they named it Greenland, apparently to make the land sound enticing to other people, in the hopes that they too would come and settle there.

Uummannaq, Greenland
Today Greenlanders will be singing songs, giving speeches, hoisting their flags, marching in processions, and enjoying Greenlandic dancing and music and other entertainment. People open their homes for kaffemiks, get-togethers during which coffee is served. There's also soccer (which most of the world calls football) and food and fireworks. Some people show off their kayaking skills; many people show off their national costumes; and visitors take advantage of the loooooooooooonng day to snap some photos of said kayaks and costumes. 

Actually, the whole long-day thing is exactly why today was chosen to be Greenland's National Day. It's the solstice, the longest day of the year. And for Greenlanders – that's a pretty long day! Today in Nuuk, Greenland's capital and largest city, the sun will rise at 2:54 in the morning, and it will set shortly after midnight (yes, it is the land of the midnight sun!). A little farther north, in the town of Ilulissat, the sun has been up for all of June and much of May as well! It will not set until the early morning of July 25!
  • To learn more about Greenland, check out Kidz World. I like how the author begins the bit on Greenland's history: 
Nothing much happened, still nothing happened. A couple of guys arrived but left right away. Nothing else happened for hundreds of years.”
Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

  • Here is a taste of life in a village in Greenland.

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