Photo – Magnus Biilmann Trolle, Visit Nuuk
Maybe you’ve always known you wanted to visit Kalaallit Nunaat, or maybe the thought only struck you recently.
Perhaps you already know a lot about the Inuit, and our culture and have read about our history. However, did you know about the cultural do’s and don’ts in Greenland?
Here is a social guide to help you navigate the customs when you come to visit us in the north.
Facial expressions: Yes!
What we do instead of nodding and shaking our heads in Kalaallit Nunaat, we use our facial muscles and expressions to say yes or no to questions.
If you want to say ’no,’ you simply scrunch up your nose – this means exactly the same as shaking your head ‘no.’ On the contrary, if you want to say ‘yes,’ you lift up your eyebrows. It’s both a common greeting and a way to say yes! This can be very confusing if you are not used to doing it, but with some practice, you can master it.
Taking pictures of people without consent: No
It is normal and very human to want to document a beautiful moment on vacation, but just remember that we are all people with our own lives. So please, be nice and always ask if you can take a photo of people. Who knows, you may even make new friends in the process. Always remember to be kind and ask to take photos of us and our family.
Talk quietly: Yes
In Kalaallit Nunaat, we don’t have a culture for speaking loudly. It’s common to be soft-spoken and have long pauses in conversation. It is not considered awkward or uncomfortable. It is actually very normal. When you have conversations at a lower volume in public spaces, it is considered respectful.
Eye contact: Yes
Eye contact in the western world may not be common. It can even be a little dangerous in some cultures. But in Kalaallit Nunaat, it is a completely normal part of everyday life!
We are a small community and most of us know each other. This means that it is common to look people in the eye as we pass them by on the street. You will certainly earn a smile or two by acknowledging other people you pass by. A pro tip is to lightly smile and lift your eyebrows at the person you walk past. This is a common way to casually greet each other among Kalaallit Inuit and we love when visitors greet us back.
Nuummiut LOVE, Facebook. This is a commonplace where we put all of our events and invites so do keep an eye out on your Facebook. You can check out local events and you may discover something fun!
You can find events in Nuuk here
Strict traffic rules: No
You may already know that Nuuk is a relatively ”new” city. (YOU may want to link to the history of Nuuk) This is also noticeable on the sidewalks or lack thereof. You might be used to strictly staying on the right/left side of the road. But in Nuuk, you just stick to wherever there’s a sidewalk or path in order to stay safe as a pedestrian walking in traffic. If in doubt, look at what locals are doing, follow their cue and of course, remember to look to your left and right before crossing the street.