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You will find my experiences at the Jokkmokk Market in Sweden interesting.

No matter the temperature, I love my annual trek to the Jokkmokk Market in Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle.  I had several learning experiences this year that I think you will find interesting. First, I learned that the point at where the Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature scales meet is 40 degrees below zero. At that temperature, I found it difficult to take off reindeer-skin mittens in order to take pictures.  I also learned that food purchased at an open-air market at 40 below, even pastries and doughnuts, will very quickly freeze.

The market was established 407 years ago so that the King of Sweden could collect taxes from his nomadic Saami citizens. During the first week of February each year, the Saami met in the town of Jokkmokk, traded goods with one another, and paid their taxes. Trading goods grew into a market, and now Jokkmokk is a collection of artists and craftspeople that keep the Saami culture alive.

Check out the photos that I snapped and learn more about the market here.

The Historic Market opened first. Held on the site of the first market, participants wear furs and leather clothing true to the Saami styles of the 1600s. As you can see by this photo, I walked past piles of tanned reindeer hides available for sale, much as they would have been four centuries ago. There were tables of tree burls that had been put to good use; the Saami use them to start fires, make drinking cups, and store food. A woodcarver demonstrated how to hollow out a massive burl with a small hatchet. The big burl would have been wonderful for storing food for the winter, but I contented myself with buying a selection of burl cups and bowls.  Stop by and see the beautiful workmanship up close.

On Wednesday, the Historic Market closed, and a torchlight procession moved from the small, original market and to the opening ceremonies of the more spacious new market. Here jewelers abounded. They create Saami jewelry by using all of nature as their inspiration and source of materials. Birch roots are woven into floral earrings, salmon skin is embroidered onto reindeer leather bracelets, and ornate brooches are carved out of reindeer horn. I brought home not only Saami art but also pieces of the dramatic landscape in which the Sammi live.

Each noon a parade punctuated the day, and reindeer in brilliantly- colored harnesses pulled sleighs through the center of the market. This year the grand marshall was Per Kuhmunen, a lifelong advocate for Saami arts and culture. Following Per were Saami in colorful costumes, all with a personal touch.

Now, at the end of March, the boxes of my purchases have begun to arrive.  As I eagerly unpack them, the warm aromas of tanned leather and the feel of reindeer fur take me back to Jokkmokk. In the next few months, I will be bringing these wonderful items to the Stockholm store. You are invited to visit the store and experience their feel and aroma.  I hope that they will transport you, too, to a world of Arctic beauty and a culture that expresses that beauty in their handcraft and art.

We’d love to see you again,
Diane, Carstens, and staff