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Many Indigenous People have solstice traditions, and Sakha people are no exception. Our traditional celebration festival is called Yhyakh.

I think many indigenous peoples have solstice traditions, and Sakha people are not an exception. Our traditional celebration – festival is called Yhyakh. It’s celebrated on a weekend close to the 22nd of June and is a huge celebration when all the people gather together on designated territories and celebrate for two days. There’s a brief article on Wikipedia about it: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yhyakh

On the first day of Saturday, people come to the place of the celebration and put up their tents there. Yhyakh is celebrated in designated areas or of a city or a village. In Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, this place is called Üs Khatyñ (in Sakha language – Үс Хатыҥ). You can find it on Google maps and see pictures here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/NqotvBigqxJ5tzE97.

Once the tent or picnic place is settled, people go to the grand opening of the festival. The opening consists of Shaman’s blessing, opening speeches of officials, dances and traditional rites. You can see the opening from 2019 here:

After the opening people walk around the festival area and enjoy different activities. They can watch or take part in traditional sports, such as ‘hapsagay’ , drink and eat traditional foods, such as ‘kymys’ and ‘oyogos’, and enjoy dozens of concerts and entertainments. People also often visit spiritual places, like the Tree of Aal Luuk Maas that is believed to have healing properties. There is a special Urasa (traditional Sakha summer dwelling) where people can receive blessings for the upcoming year.

These festival activities last till night time, and at around 2am people get together to meet the sunrise. Because Yakutsk is close to the North Pole, the sun doesn’t go down in summer, so we have White Nights. During these the sun keeps shining through the night, with only a brief moment of twilight, but never with darkness. So at Yhyakh the sunrise is celebrated at night. People gather together, put their hands towards the sun and let it’s energy fill them in silence. You can see fragments of it below (the music in the background is usually played after the sunrise).

After the sunrise people keep celebrating and on Sunday there’s a closing ceremony of Ysyakh.

This story and imagery was provided to us by our esteemed contributor, Aitalina Petrova (Айталина Петрова) from Yakutia, who will be celebrating Yhyakh this summer in her home town.

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