This week was the first week of school for the children in Ilulissat. It’s a special day, particularly for the children who will enter first grade and begin their journey in education.
On this day there is a small welcoming ceremony for all the students of the school. The teachers are introduced and the children enter the building. For the children entering the first grade, there was a separate ceremony taking place one hour after the general welcome.
All the children arrived around 10:00 wearing the national costumes. The national costume is used on special and festive occasions, such as this day, and others like Christmas, confirmations and weddings.
The teachers announced the name of each child and they came up to the front of the crowd while being handed a Greenlandic flag. The children gathered together, smiling and waving their flags, while the parents took photographs and wiped the rolling tears in their eyes.
I feel for the parents who must have sacrificed a lot of time and effort to get their child to first grade, and now they make a new commitment to support their child into the next 10 years. It was special to see the celebration in the morning! In the afternoon, I was invited to a ‘kaffemik’, which is a celebration that takes place in someone’s home.
Greenlanders hold kaffemik to celebrate special events of all kinds. They welcome both family and friends to come together over food, snacks, and warm conversations. People were coming in and out of the home and giving gifts to the host family to celebrate their son entering first grade. There were rows of sweets served with tea and coffee. It was special to be a part of both cultural and daily life experiences.