1 of 17
In 1955, LIFE photographer Carl Mydans traveled to a spot in Sweden just across the Arctic Circle, roughly 700 miles north of Stockholm, where he chronicled the modern-day version of a tradition that was, by then, more than three centuries old: namely, the annual winter market in the town of Jokkmokk, where the Sami people (formerly referred to as Lapps) sold mainly reindeer-related goods and celebrated Sami culture.
For reasons lost to time, none of Mydans’ photos ever ran in LIFE magazine — but here, six decades later, as winter holidays approach and as the Northern Hemisphere’s days grow shorter, the nights longer and the air ever colder, LIFE.com features a number of the master photographer’s pictures from that long-ago assignment.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.