How to break a date in Greenland

The other date - the perfect food to break the Ramadan fast. Photo: Matthew Mead / AP

The other date – the perfect food to break the Ramadan fast. Photo: Matthew Mead / AP

If anyone ever breaks a date with you during the summertime (or just because it’s plain great weather), there’s a simple answer.

It’s because they don’t like you!

Joking. … They MAY like you anyway and have another reason.

A seasoned friend explained it this way:

Didn’t you know? During the hunting season, a marriage is on hold. The husband has to go hunting. (Women also go hunting here).

Whether it’s because people are used to living by the whim of the weather gods, or there is a relatively short sailing season in the North Atlantic, loose agreements is in the culture of the place.

Sometimes people will prepare you:

Let’s do brunch on the weekend – unless it’s really good weather, then we might go sailing.

Or just be non-committal.

Let’s do a ‘halv-aftale’.
(A half-agreement meaning that if everything works out, we’re going to meet. If not, ajungilak, no worries). 

Other times everything gets cancelled at the last moment:

Sorry it’s really good weather so we’re going sailing.


Sorry my (so-and-so family member) just got back from hunting so I have to work with the meat tonight.
(Meaning after having shot the reindeer, gutted it, lugged it back to the boat, sailed it home, they have to prepare the meat so that it is ready for freezing. This can take a few hours!)

Finally, you learn to turn it to your advantage: 

Sorry I got invited to go __________ so I can’t make it to dinner.

You start getting used to the way it is around here, and might even begin to think it’s weird that someone rejects a trip offer because they only had a dinner date organised…. =)

How life has changed. These days, I don’t really make plans until a few days before or on the day. Back in my other home, some of my best friends were always so busy that I had to book them two or three weeks in advance. My friends also lived all over the metropolis too, so it was almost impossible to just turn up at their door. So life required that we planned more.

On the flip side, sometimes people break dates because of the weather and no one is happy. For example, if someone misses a flight because of bad weather. In turn, people learn to deal with things not turning out the way one expects! They deal with uncertainty better.

Would you be okay with breaking dates for something better? Or do you like living life more spontaneously?

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29 thoughts on “How to break a date in Greenland

  1. Pingback: Feeling useless in Greenland | The Fourth Continent

  2. Great post! I enjoy reading your articles.
    Speaking of dates and Ramadan, I am a bit curious to know if really there is anyone in Greenland who is fasting nowadays. Since the day is too long during the summer, I can’t imagine how fasting for almost 20 hours would be like.

    • Reindeer hunting is a way of life. In this sense, people live so sustainably, from nature straight to the mouth. It’s quite amazing…you want to buy local, right? You want to buy organic? You can’t get more local or organic than this.

      In other ways, people in GL don’t live so sustainbly though 😉 Like, there’s lots of sweets and drinks and groceries being flown in each week from other places!

      • Yeah, I can’t imagine it… Maybe if you’re raised there it is a normal thing, like we have pigs, chicken, cows etc. But we hunt none of them. We do have hunting for deers and I am extremely against it… I see I would have some problems in Greenland 😀

          • Yes on all three, and no I don’t wear leather… 🙂 I eat animals because my body needs nutrients from meet, and I love to eat it (but I prefer only those you mentioned plus lamb, I don’t like to eat meat from animals that are hunted down in their wild habitat)… I may be a hypocrite, but many things can be replaces with other options. Non animal options. Also, I dislike that they still do testing on animals :/

  3. Hi, just today I discovered your blog (the kiviaq brought me here) 🙂 When it comes to planning, Latin Americans can do it both ways depending on their circle of friends or the type of dates but usually these plans won’t require more than a week, a couple of hours in most cases (my fiancée and I are usually spontaneous when it comes to plans). Greetings from Panama!

    • Hi Giovanelli, thanks for coming by! I reckon it’s nice with a mix, planning a little but still bring able to be flexible, so maybe you guys have the perfect balance! Are most of these dates with friends who live close by or must one also drive /plan to meet up? The best thing about living in a small town is hanging out at the local pub I think where you are almost sure to meet your friends 🙂

      • Most of the time friends are nearby, a couple of minutes away. Sometimes dates are planned when a friend who lives at other city or country is at town, or simply a weekend night hangout at somebody’s house before heading to a disco or a bar.

  4. Oooh interesting! I had a similar experience moving from England to Copenhagen. In Copenhagen my friends and I would rely on spontaneous plans to make the most of free moments….whereas in England I lived out of my diary and weekends would be booked up a month in advance just to try and see everyone (making myself sound more of a social butterfly than I probably am haha).
    There is generally a more “relaxed” and “go with the wind” attitude in Copenhagen that’s for sure! Sounds like Greenland are reading from the same book there 🙂

    • Hello! That’s funny you say that, because in Greenland, the Danes are the strict ones who like to plan ahead and who are more rigid! Here a (relatively important) event might be planned in 3 days! It’s a bit like the Icelanders in that sense… =) Maybe here one is better at doing things at the last minute =)

  5. Clever image! Hehe.

    I’ve never gone on a date myself, so I wouldn’t know for sure. (My wife and I had a mutual understanding that we would work towards marriage as soon as we started our relationship.)

    For me, I try to stay true to my commitments. If I have an appointment scheduled with someone and something urgent comes up, it’s hard for me to cancel…unless I’m sick or something.

    • Hi Chris! That’s very nice that your plan with your wife worked out! I was talking about dates in any context, not only romantic, but I could see how breaking a date could be frustrating particularly if there were romantic inclinations! =)

      I think most people like commitment of some sort. Definitely colleagues, at least. Showing up on time, showing up at all is valued. Still it’s nice to learn flexibility and that’s what I’m learning here on many levels. I’ll end up more flexible and versatile, I hope!

      What’s it like in China right now, making plans with locals? Are you considered supercool so way too many plans? =D
      Cheers, Tanny

      • Yeah, if living abroad has taught me anything, it’s that I need to be FLEXIBLE in order to survive. Haha. Especially when certain cultures don’t place an equally high value on time/punctuality as I do. 🙂

        I’ve found that Chinese people tend to be pretty punctual if you specify a time to meet. I think because they value convenience so much, they do everything they can to NOT make things inconvenient for you – for instance, being late to a meeting.

        Haha, I don’t know if people think I’m “super cool.” But I definitely enjoy making plans in general and following through on those plans… even if they don’t always happen. 😛

        • I have met so many considerate and kind Chinese people. They can be so kind and warm, and go out of their way to help you. I feel a bit of nostalgia.

          The difference between living here and there, is that in China, the Chinese people love foreigners (especially if they can speak English or are Western). In Greenland, foreigners are definitely not as cool as in China! it’s not always so welcoming, although individuals can be…

          • Are the Chinese folks you meet generally first generation folks, or have their families been there for a while? I always find it fascinating to meet people of Chinese descent who live in other parts of the world. Like this one Chinese guy I met who was born in France. Hearing English with a French accent from a fellow Asian is such a fun thing to experience. 😀

  6. Meeting up with friends, setting dates and so on. I’ve never really heard of anyone breaking dates of because of the weather! For me, if the weather’s great, all the more I want to go out – with friends or without friends. If I’m going to meet up with a friend, usually I make plans with them a week or more in advance. We live in different suburbs and either have work or uni, so meeting up is always a treat for us 🙂

    • Hi Mabel, have you been out and about in Europe during the summertime? I love to see the people, just lounging around simply because of the good weather. In Australia, people might enjoy the weather, but it’s so funny because people in Europe (and also Greenland) NEED to be outside when it is sunny! Perhaps it is because it’s not always beautiful weather, but it is such a treat to experience. I spent a day in Copenhagen this summer, and going over the bridges was so thrilling because people were just sitting on the railings and drinking beer and having a good time! So charming =) Tanny

      • Nope, never traveled to Europe before actually. If all goes well work-wise and book-writing-wise for me, I’ll probably plan a trip there in June or July next year. It’s cold for most of the year in the northern hemisphere, so I’m not surprised to hear people in your part of the world rush out to feel the sun when it comes out in summer.

        When it’s sunny in Melbourne, people do come out too – usually to bask in the sun. Which really isn’t good for the skin 🙂

  7. A different culture I guess, and I can understand the need to make the most of the weather, but if you opted out of a dinner date at the last minute in the uk, you might not get invited again!

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