In Sámi language May is Miessemánu, or Reindeer Calf Month.

May 10, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Reindeer, Reindeer Herders

Miessemánu: In northern Sámi language, the month of May is called Miessemánu, or ‘reindeer calf month’, and it is this time of year that the cycle of life continues in the world of reindeer herding. For reindeer and herders life starts anew across the Sámi area, as reindeer are not only giving birth to new calves but they are on the move, most particularly in Norway and Sweden.

A newborn reindeer calf runs alongside its mother on the Nadym Tundra. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto

A newborn reindeer calf runs alongside its mother on the Nadym Tundra. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto

In many districts, it is time to leave the winter pastures and travel overland to the summer pastures and reindeer and their herders are travelling over ancient and well worn migratory paths often to the coast, mainly by walking, sometimes by boat, and occasionally by truck to reach their summer pastures. It is also a dangerous time for reindeer – predators are on the move too, and reindeer calves are food for lynx, wolverine, eagles and some bears and wolves. Herders in Scandinavia can lose as many as half of the calves born to their animals, so it is of vigilance and a time for extended families to take part in watching and moving with the herd.

Thanks to ICR board member Roza Laptander for pointing out that Nenets people also have reindeer themed months in their language – April is the ‘false reindeer calving month’ (Сие ниць иры) and May is the reindeer calving month (Ты” ниць иры).

So here’s to Miessemánu, travel safely and watch out for the predators!

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