Invented Traditions

Invented traditions refer to ‘traditions’ that have been invented or developed for a specific purpose. Invented traditions are aimed at connecting with the past in a way that appears to confirm a historical continuity. These ‘traditions’ seem or are made to seem ancient but are, in reality, quite recent and invented. Tourism exploiting Sámi culture has created tangible and intangible invented ‘cultural heritage’ which has been commercially utilised with no regard for genuine Sámi culture or without hearing or unconcerned for the opinions of the Sámi in the matter. One of the most offensive examples is a product known as ‘Lapland baptism’, an initiation ceremony invented purely for touristic purposes. It has no factual foundation in actual Sámi culture. Furthermore, it presents the Sámi people in a highly disadvantageous light as dirty and primitive characters. In addition to ‘Lapland baptism’ ceremony, the category of invented traditions includes other imitations that are degrading towards Sámi culture. Such imitations are, for example, ‘handicrafts’ imported from low-cost countries but marketed as Sámi handicrafts, fictional stories fabricated for tourism that are claimed to be based on Sámi culture, yoik imitations, and associating the Sámi and Sámi culture with fairy tale characters such as Santa Claus.