Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Celebration with delivery to the tundra

Reindeer Day was celebrated for the ninetieth time this year in NAA and Komi

3 august 2022

03.08.2022 // Reindeer Day is a professional holiday for reindeer herders in the Nenets Autonomous Area and the Komi Republic. It is timed to coincide with the end of summer grazing and the start of herds moving to winter pastures. It is celebrated on 2 August, Elijah's Day. The merging of the Slavic and Nenets holidays is symbolic — a sign of the unity of peoples living together on one land.

On 21 July 1931, at a general meeting of Bolshezemelskaya tundra reindeer breeders, it was decided to establish a new holiday, Reindeer Day. On 1 August of the same year, it was held on the Yugorsky Shar. Both the reindeer herders and the regional administration liked the idea, so the following year, 1932, Reindeer Day was celebrated throughout the Nenets Area 'for the purpose of further developing reindeer husbandry and conducting a review of reindeer husbandry work in the current year.' Thus 1932 became the official 'birthday' of the main tundra holiday.

The tradition continued even during the Great Patriotic War. However, the date of the celebration has long been a floating one: it has been moved several times from early to mid-August. In the 1980s, it was decided to celebrate the holiday on the first Sunday in August. It was only on 14 December 2007 that the NAA district law finally set a clear date of 2 August. The same law adopted the original name, Reindeer Day: in 1958, the holiday was renamed Reindeer Herder's Day, and it was renamed Reindeer Day again in the mid-1990s.

Despite the change of dates and names, the obligatory attributes of the holiday have not changed in the 90 years of its existence. The programme includes summing up the year's results and honouring the best, reindeer sledging, Nordic sports competitions and, of course, performances by national groups. The traditional venues are the reindeer herders' camps in the Bolshezemelskaya, Malozemelskaya and Kaninskaya tundras, where guests are transported by helicopter.

Organising competitions in traditional sports is a task that the reindeer herders are perfectly capable of handling themselves. On Reindeer Day, there are competitions in jumping over a sledge, tossing a tynzei at a long pole or at a sledge, reindeer sledge racing and national reindeer wrestling.

Reindeer Day is not just a holiday for those who roam the tundra, it is also widely celebrated in the towns of NAA and the Komi Republic. In Naryan-Mar, for example, everyone could try their hand at jumping over a sledge or tossing a tynzei and then taste traditional Nenets cuisine in a real chum. Hundreds of citizens took part in games, competitions and quizzes. The concert featured songs in Russian and Nenets.

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