“Hallelujah” in Alaska: Northern Christmas Lights

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In most cases, playing Christmas music after Christmas is in even worse taste than wearing white after Labor Day. This video from Quinhagak, Alaska, demands a dispensation from that rule.

The inhabitants of this village on the Kanektok river — major industries fishing and canning, per capita income $8,127 — pull off this masterpiece by keeping it simple. They hold up signs with the words to “The Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. It works: it’s funny and charming and sweet.

According to YouTube, it began as a project among the 5th graders at some school called “Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat.” (I understand that’s Inuit for “Snow day? You trippin’!”) However, people from all ages appear to be taking part. As you watch, be sure to count them. According to the 2000 census, Quinhagak has 555 inhabitants. By the time the final “Hallelujah” fades out, it’s just possible you’ll have laid eyes on the face of every single Quinhagakian.

Watch, enjoy. Cheer these good people of the North. But do it quietly, for Pete’s sake. The video was meant for an audience of 200. Since it’s gone viral, YouTube reports, “the village of Quinhagak is glowing.” Any more attention, they’ll probably try “Numa Numa.”

  • jkm

    It’s OK. “Hallelujah” is Easter music, so they’re precocious. And flat-out adorable. (Besides, it’s still Christmas until next Sunday, liturgically.) This is the first of these flash-mobby things I’ve seen that doesn’t seem just a little bit commercial and precious. These are real kids. Love the spinning FOR EV ER AND EV ER girls, and the stray apostrophes and misheard lyrics. And the dogs! Thanks for bearing gifts from the ends of the earth on this Epiphany.

  • jkm

    Correcting my correction: Baptism of the Lord is tomorrow, not next Sunday. All this transferring of Epiphany messes me up. But you’re still in under the white-shoe deadline.

    [Let's complicate this further: aren't a lot of Alaskan Natives Russian Orthodox or Dukhobory? And don't those people celebrate their Christmas around St. Patrick's Day?]


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