Beliefs on indigenous people

In addition to the people of Scandinavia, the Inuits, the American Indians, tribes in Siberia, the people of Russia and the Baltic countries and the people of Mongolia have beliefs related to the northern lights.

The origin of the northern lights has various explanations in folklore and mythology. The Finnish name for the northern lights "revontulet" is associated with the arctic fox. According to a folk tale, an arctic fox is running far in the north and touching the mountains with its fur, so that sparks fly off into the sky as the northern lights. Another version of the story says the fox throws the northern lights up into the sky by sweeping snow upwards with its tail. A more developed version then explains how moonlight is reflected from the snowflakes swept up into the sky by the fox's tail. Other Finnish explanations
include the water jet emitted by whales. The Estonian people have a belief related to the games whales play. Funnily enough, even a crocodile features in the Estonian tales. Numerous explanations of the northern lights maintain they are various types of reflected light. Icebergs, herrings in the Arctic Ocean, geysers in Iceland and the volcano Heckle appear in the explanations. In parts of Lapland people considered the northern lights as the winter counterpart of the thunderstorm in summer. Often one meets the aurora as omens. Omens of war were described in Poland, Prussia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and among the Saami or Lapp people. However, a large and systematic ethnologic study of the topic is missing.

In the Saami language, the northern lights are called guovssahasah. It

Written for Virtual Finland by Esa Turunen Ph.D., Jyrki Manninen Ph.D. and Professor Tauno Turunen