Perhaps no holiday is more important to the Eskimo than the DeathFestival. More than a tribute to the dead, this festival marks the beginning of the yearly cycle by being held at the end of the six month Eskimo night.
Something moved in the dark. A face as tall as a man -- a big, round,evil face wandered at random. More faces and the realization: the dead walk the snow. Whistling and chanting, "We have stolen the sun and you will have to live in darkness".
But the women of the ribe, who were hiding in their igloos, then rushed outshrieking and beating their chests, proclaiming their right as the source of life. The dead spirits were frightened by the women and fled into the darkness. As the Eskimo band picked up their song, the women gathered in a circle, symbolizing nature's golden orb, and sang a hymn asking the dead to return the sun to the mothers of the snow.
The men, having removed their "dead spirit" masks, joined the women infestive songs and hand-clapping games until, at last, the first rays of sunlight of the Eskimo year began to appear over the horizon, signaling the end of six months of winter darkness. Gratefully, the dead had released their hold once more.