During winter 2016 Jokkmokk winter market were held for the 411th year running. Apart from world-class Sami art, culture and handicraft, visitors are normally greeted by proper, cold winter weather.
On the first weekend in February, every year since 1605, the Jokkmokk market is held. Often it’s cold as, well… hell, and if you’ve got any paranoid tendencies you’ll assume that’s why this particular weekend was chosen for the market. But we’ll come back to that. First let’s take a stroll around the stalls. You’ve got to expect the normal market knick-knacks, of course. There are the helium balloons, t-shirts with novelty prints and sweets that will make your blood sugar level hit the roof. But you’ll also come across the genuine and the beautiful. In Jokkmokk some of the best Sami artisans and artists gather. This is where you’ll find the future culture bearers.
When the market started some 400 years ago this wasn’t that large an event. Back then the market was purely a place to trade and meet. The Sami people met to trade goods, socialise, and possibly to get a bit tipsy. At least they’d arrive in their party clothes. The Swedish king, Karl IX, and his bailiffs wanted to see what kind of goods the Sami were trading so they could exact more taxes. At the same time the priest would be there to give the sinners a good talking to. To make everything easier to control and run smoother, they organised the market during the coldest time of the year. People had to stay near the houses to keep warm. You might think this sounds like pure fiction, but the fact is that the Swedish state wanted to create a market for economic reasons – money was needed for all the wars the king was involved in down in Europe.
So Karl IX proclaimed himself “… divine King of Sweden… of the Laps in the Northern Lands” and Jokkmokk got a market in the middle of the freezing cold.