Courting Arctic Style – A wedding in Greenland

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As we rapidly head in to the high season for weddings, wedding traditions, wedding gifts and wedding preparations, we thought we would once again remind ourselves of how different cultures go about the exciting and tricky task of find your lifelong partner.

In Greenland the Inuit tradition was to kidnap your bride to be, and the more the blushing beauty fought, screamed, scratched and generally molested the hapless suitor, the greater her honour. Now we’re not talking about a small tirade and feigned indignity. The Inuit live in rough conditions and this tradition was there to test the mettle of the potential suitor. Here is one small account from explorer Peter Freuchen, from the beginning of the 19th century:

“Outside there was more room for fighting. Arnaluk still held on to the tent pole, but he got one of her hands loose by beating her over the knuckles. He tried the same thing with the other hand which flew suddenly from the pole straight into his face. The sharp nails tore five long gashes from his eye down the whole cheek and the blood was streaming down his face. The Eskimos cheered for this honorable feat.”

So guys if you think it’s tough today, spare a thought for the Eskimos of yore.

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Images from a classic film available from the Danish Film Institute, depicting a scene from the film “Palo’s Wedding” written and produced by the great Arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen.