Numerous outdoor festivals take place around the country, and many people leave the capital area for a weekend at their summerhouses or camping. Women’s Day is celebrated the day after Þorri ends. In Iceland, we have many traditions that go back almost a millennium. These communal swimming areas act as meeting points for all Icelanders, and it is an excellent way for our people to interact with each other and relax (especially during our difficult winter months). By knowing the customs, you will have a better experience on your trip, and you will understand us a little better! We have 13 different Santas called Yule Lads who are all very mischievous, and they leave treats in the children’s shoes. March 17th marks the day of St Patrick, celebrated by millions of people … Most Icelandic children in their 14th year are confirmed during the Easter period. St Patrick’s Day Traditions. Due to the high level of education, we have many, many authors. Bakeries and home chefs prepare sweet cream puffs filled with cream and jam and drizzled with chocolate. You can try one of … Twelfth Night The popular myths more often than not coincide with the most challenging months of winter and integrate food into the celebrations! Traditional cream puffs, the … From the white dress to the throwing of the bouquet, modern Icelandic weddings look a lot like American ones. More on Icelandic Christmas. The cakes are little buns filled with jam and whip cream, topped with chocolate, and made with love. Easter But there’s more to this fascinating island than its innate beauty. There are no family names. While there are too many to list here, I will try to outline some of my favorites. There is a strong food culture in Iceland, although some of the more traditional dishes are an acquired taste. A religious holiday in Iceland and marked by the giving and receiving of large chocolate eggs filled with sweets. History. We just want you to be clean! The occasion is marked by various fireworks displays and bonfires. Öskudagur Roughly coinciding with mid-January to mid-February in the modern calendar, the ancient month of Thorri is the time for Thorrablót, or Thorri feast. What people eat in Iceland though is becoming internationally famous now. Sign up for our monthly newsletter on all things Icelandic. Grab your trunks, jump in, and relax. The first day of the ancient Norse month of Thorri begins with bóndadagur, or 'husband's day'. Icelandic culture is packed with fascinating traditions. They are always in eyesight, and it has been proven to aid their sleep. New Year’s Eve Traditions. In First Day of Summer is celebrated in Iceland with a holiday on the third Thursday in April. The reason behind this is to prevent any unwanted bacteria or substances from getting into the water with you. Parenting has never been more stressful than on this day. Iceland Holidays for Seniors – Iceland Tours & Tourism. There are four active folk dance ensembles in Iceland. This is celebrated with the gathering of family and friends at home and visits to the local bonfire. The sheer isolation of the country from its European neighbors has protected its culture from outside influences and preserved its language as a direct descendent of Old Norse. To start with, the Icelandic word for wedding, “brúðkaup” literally means The early settlement, made up primarily of Norwegian seafarers and adventurers, fostered further excursions to Greenland and the coast of … The day that falls two days before Lent is called Bolludagur or Bun Day. There are national holidays on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. Before you get up in arms and grab your pitchforks about our parenting practices, you should know there is a method to the madness. Traditionally, the weather is anything but summery. Following the indulgence of bun day comes sprengidagur – bursting day. It is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday when heavily salted lamb is consumed with a side serving of pea soup. So, let’s get those tummies rumbling while I tell you some of our more popular traditions. This bank holiday, the first Monday in August, celebrates shopkeepers and other merchants. Their relaxing properties also create social avenues, so they are essential to us. The month of Thorri comes to an end with 'wife's day', a day to celebrate women. Again, this is only possible due to the security that we enjoy in Iceland. For each smack, they receive a bun. He seems like a really amicable man, who genuinely wants you to enjoy your holidays. They are tiny and delicious! Many public holidays are steeped in unique celebratory traditions, and the shared practice of these customs creates a strong feeling of community. Konudagur It is during the holidays that you can experience the small-island spirit of Iceland, and if you’re informed as to what’s happening, you can be a part of it! We don’t really celebrate Halloween in Iceland, but during Ash Wednesday or Öskudagur, our children will dress up in costumes and visit different shops in Iceland to carol inside of them. 500 km. For those of you in the United States, I envy your version of Santa Claus. Individuals looking forward to a visit of Iceland you should know some history about its culture and traditions. Icelanders have several unique holidays and celebrate the more common ones in special ways. If you have never heard of this tradition, you should research it. Independence Day It is so safe … The culture of Iceland is rich and varied as well as being known for its literary heritage which began in the 12th century. No, you aren’t going to go swimming in a glacier lagoon, in fact, I would highly recommend against it! People travel from the far stretches of the globe to visit the Emerald Isle and enjoy trad music – one of the most thrilling traditions in Ireland. https://www.iamreykjavik.com/icelands-culture-traditions-customs Many restaurants specialise in seafood due to Iceland being surrounded by an ocean abundant with all manner of fish and shellfish. If you have travel plans to visit Iceland, you may be interested in learning more about the culture. We are a well-read and inquisitive group of people. The Icelandic language day is celebrated on 16 November, the birthday of 19th-century writer Jónas Hallgrímsson, to symbolise the importance of protecting the Icelandic language. Your complete travel guide to Iceland. Iceland loves to celebrate its cultural traditions, old and new. Iceland was founded more than 1,000 years ago during the Viking age of exploration and settled by a mixed Norse and Celtic population. One of the strangest things for visitors to our small island to get over is that it isn’t rare for us to leave our youngest children outside while we go inside and enjoy a glass of Skyr Drykkur (one of our tastier drinks). I would highly recommend that you investigate further, especially if you are coming here for an extended period. Here in Iceland, we are very trusting. We also boast one of the highest publishing rates of any country in the world. When you don’t have barriers to school, your population tends to thrive. Ash Wednesday is mostly celebrated by children in Iceland. These are … Icelandic Authors on Icelandic Literature, Iceland Dream List - Ian Harper and Henry Nathan, Iceland Dream List - Eliza Reid, First Lady of Iceland, It's about time to be Inspired by Iceland. Thorrablót Before any trip, you should become accustomed to some aspects of the country you are visiting (its just good practice). Which is the best car rental in Iceland? This is not the case in Iceland! It’s impossible to eat just one. We have a dry sense of humor, and it may catch you off guard. The first written cookbooks in Iceland were published in the 18th century and were a collection of Danish recipes. The most important aspect that you need to keep in mind about us is that we are some of the friendliest folks in the world. I think it probably was a coping mechanism to deal with centuries of dreadfully cold and dark winters. Dagur Íslenskrar tungu Sprengidagur In Iceland, you must wash yourself before you get into a pool or hot pot. So even on a short city break, we can help you to experience the authentic heart of Iceland. Verslunarmannahelgi In fact, per capita, we are considered one of the best-educated countries in the world. So don’t worry, we don’t want to see you naked! Welcome! However, with the emergence of an independent national identity, Icelandic artists began to focus on the country's unique l… If you’re heading to our little Nordic island, we thought we’d give you a quick insight into more of our culture and customs. In Iceland, we use minimal chemicals, especially in our hot springs and hot pots. Traditionally ashes were collected into small ash bags. If you are driving, remember that every lamb and horse not to mention people has more rights to be on the road than you and your car. As they say in Iceland “Áfram með smjörið.” Which means “on with the butter.” On its surface it means nothing, but it is a way of saying “keep going, keep moving forward.” Only a group of people with a dry sense of humor would offer words of encouragement by channeling the perseverance and strength of butter. We love visitors, and we want you to enjoy our country as much as we do. Icelandic culture is often quirky and fun, and very interesting (in our humble opinion). The people visiting Iceland tell us that what they fall in love with is the Icelandic way of life. This applies to belongings, but it also applies to our children! Presents are opened after Christmas dinner, which is a fairly formal affair. Below I will outline some integral and fascinating facets of Iceland’s culture, traditions, and customs. Most Icelanders buy their own fireworks and set them off at midnight to welcome in the New Year. The Reykjavík area has several professional theaters, a symphony orchestra, an opera and many art galleries, bookstores, cinemas and museums. Icelanders have a relaxed attitude towards traditions but some of our old ways still frequently make their way into a couple’s big day. NOTE - Icelanders do not blink before making a turns as we should. Icelandic culture remains rich and varied, with friendly people, intriguing traditions, fun festivals, and fascinating food. Learn how your comment data is processed. Sumardagurinn fyrsti Are you already fed up with running alone? Each year, Icelanders are involved in numerous celebrations and traditions which make this captivating country even more special. The Icelandic Over the Top 3-Day Food Fest. These three numbers are thought to have special powers. However, it is ok to leave smt for the cleaners when leaving a hotel. Shops are also open very late for the many who leave their Christmas buying frenzy until the last minute. Not to be confused with the official Independence Day on 17 June, this is celebrated on 1 December, to recognise Iceland’s declaration of independence from Denmark in 1918. Iceland has a fantastic storytelling tradition. Many tales and anecdotes belong in an oral tradition, and concern the huldufólk, meaning hidden people. The visual arts are highly valued in Icelandic culture as witnessed by the vibrant art scene displayed on walls everywhere from clothing boutiques and cafes to hotels and office spaces. From the ancient sagas to award-winning films, Icelanders are a generally writing, acting, composing, designing, painting, sculpting, and all-round creating bunch. Car Rental Iceland. If you are still interested you should check out some of our most famous phrases. Iceland’s Culture, Traditions, and Customs, Ferry to Iceland: A Different Way of Traveling, Iceland’s Best Luxury Hotels – Exclusive Accommodation, The Ancient Stories Written in The Iceland Viking Sagas, Basic Phrases In Icelandic For First Timers – Let’s Have A…, Sunshine and Daylight Hours in Iceland Per Month, Climate in Iceland: Temperature and Average Monthly Precipitation, Iceland’s Sky Lagoon – The Ultimate Experience, Your Iceland Honeymoon: An Amazing Experience, Hunting Dragons in Iceland – Lake Lagarfljót and Beyond, Explore Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park’s Lesser-Known Gems, Norse Mythology: The Stories Behind the Icelandic Nature, Iceland Museums: Viking Adventures and More. Surely a treacherous time agical things are said to take place on this evening, including rumours that cows can speak! Traditionally, Icelanders were encouraged to eat to bursting point, during what would be their last proper meal before Lent. You have entered an incorrect email address! We tend to overlook lousy singing. The first professional secular painters appeared in Iceland in the 19th century. Iceland fuses the best of both worlds. For me, it is just an excuse to eat as many pastries as humanly possible, and isn’t dessert what life is really about? Heck, I don’t even walk on the cracks in the sidewalk if I can avoid it. I am sure just reading it on paper is has given you pause to try to re-read the previous sentence twice. It is situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, directly under the Arctic Circle (66° N). The cultural aspects, traditions, and customs laid out above are a small-scale representation of what makes Iceland, well, Iceland. Visitors will find Iceland is a classless society with a strong literary tradition. Wife-carrying Championship: Finland. That way when you get here, you won’t be caught off-guard. Icelanders decorate the interior and exterior of their houses extensively, in an effort to brighten up the dark winter days and nights. Icelandic is a Germanic language related to Norwegian. The day is the birthday of the country’s independence hero, Jón Sigurdsson. It is very interesting indeed! But it is true! Traditional foods, conserved in the traditional manner, are consumed and most Icelanders attend at least one Thorrablót feast, where there is much merriment and drink. Recipes of meat in Iceland may be low in numbers but the ones that do exist can dazzle an eater with its taste and presentation. Iceland was originally colonized by Erik the Red in 982. Native instruments, including the bouzoukis, uilleann pipes, and the Celtic harp further celebrate the culture of Ireland. Icelandic Culture Driving in Iceland Natural Wonders Practical info Caroling on Halloween is very odd for a lot of people. The island is almost entirely free of crime, especially violent crime. Thorramatur, a tradition that celebrates our original culture, is a perfect example of that. No one wants a screaming baby inside while they try to enjoy their Bleikja (Arctic Char, full of healthy vitamins), so we leave them outside. Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice Iceland is often described as dramatic, thrilling, and otherworldly, with natural wonders shaped by unrelenting forces. 6 January is celebrated as the last day of Christmas. Here in Iceland, we are notoriously friendly! While most of them have evolved to mark the changing seasons and celebrate the work of farmers and seafarers, others derive from Christian customs that originally came from other countries. Iceland’s national day, 17 June, commemorates the creation of Iceland as a republic in 1944. By wash, I mean you must wash everything. Follow us on the following social networks and websites. Throughout the year there are events and festivals celebrating different aspects of Icelandic culture and history – from its Viking past up to the ever growing Gay Pride festival. Check out our articles for travel tips and inspiration for your trip to Iceland. Summarizing an entire’s country’s identity in one blog post is nearly impossible to do. Reykjavik has always been the hotbed of Iceland’s subversive creativity renowned for its vibrant, energetic character. While our culture is open and affable, we also have a plethora of rich and fascinating traditions. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! The coastline is 6,000 km long; the distance between the North and South coasts is cca. Not only must you wash thoroughly, but you must also shower naked (this is the standard for most locations, but the rules vary). Culture Along with the Icelandic language, Iceland’s culture is strongly rooted in Norse traditions, expressed in the still-popular Sagas and ancient literature. The children are rewarded with candies and treats for their singing. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. So, if you are in Iceland during Ash Wednesday, and you see a group of Ninja Turtles singing in a store in Reykjavik, don’t be alarmed. Folklore that has inspired fantasy franchises, such as the Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and the Elder Scrolls, originated in Iceland; the nation’s intrinsic value for literacy has created some the world’s greatest writers for centuries; and the country is becoming as … Bun Day and Bursting Day Iceland Traditions. Eventually, we left our Nordic religion and converted to Christianity. But, we still have strong ties to our original Norse gods. Icelandic Republic Day Statistics show that 1 out of 10 Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime. This holiday is dedicated to Iceland’s seamen and is celebrated on the first Sunday in June with displays of fish and fun and games for the kids in most communities around the country. Tipping in Iceland is not popular as we mostly pay in plastic. Over the millennium that they have existed, Icelandic people, isolated on a faraway polar isle, have created a fascinating and storied culture. Christmas is celebrated on 24 December promptly at 6pm in the evening. Today children celebrate the day by dressing up in costumes and singing in shops for sweets and treats, a little like Hallowe’en celebrations. Icelandic Holidays, Traditions & Celebrations 1. For many, this signifies the beginning of Christmas. Costco Iceland: Low prices or fair prices? It isn’t uncommon to see valuables unattended in public. Fyrsti Vetradagur – First Day of Winter ... As the host of the All Things Iceland podcast, she shares about Icelandic culture, history, language and nature. And that is the goal of any trip, right? On Bolludagur we try to eat as many pastries as we possibly can during the day. You should pack a bathing suit before you make your way to Iceland. 300 km, between East and West cca. In addition to the traditional holidays listed here, numerous festivals take place throughout the year. About two weeks before Christmas, children leave their shoes in their windowsills, and they awake to find treats in gifts in their shoes. They are equal parts funny and slightly confusing. More... We tend to leave our children outside in strollers and prams to let them enjoy our fresh Icelandic air while they peacefully slumber. Bolludagur is my favorite! It is similar to buying the extra insurance package on your rental car, except it’s free and there isn’t a mountain of paperwork! Icelandic art has been built on northern European traditions of the nineteenth century, but developed in distinct directions in the 20th century, influenced in particular by the unique Icelandic landscape as well as by Icelandic mythology and culture. We are Jana & Berglind. As per Iceland culture and tradition, people have mid-winter feasts with traditional foods such as dried fish, fermented shark meat, and liver pudding during this month. A cake-filled marathon until we meet our untimely demise?! Midsummer Night, The longest day of the year, is endowed with great mystical powers. Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. On this holiday, children get involved and make little wands at school and then return home to smack their parents with their batons (very strange to uninitiated, I know). In addition to the traditional holidays listed here, numerous festivals take place throughout the year. Bolludagur, or “bun-day,” is celebrated about two months before Easter in Iceland. Jónsmessa However, knocking on wood is but one level of protection you can offer yourself against tempting fate in Iceland. Campervan Iceland: Ranking Top 5 Campervan Rental Companies in Iceland. Bolludagur And we are an excellent case study for this. Spanning generations, this Irish music genre sees instruments such as fiddle, piano, and acoustic guitar take centre stage. Þorláksmessa 23 December is St. Þorlákur's Day, when Icelanders eat putrefied skate to symbolise what was traditionally the end of the Christmas fast. Find tips, book trips, affordable holidays or a self drive tour. Icelandic works represent a large section of the Old Norse literature Sagas or stories often focus on Nordic and Germanic history, Viking invasions and voyages, and ancient battles. Iceland’s unique nature, closely-knit population, and enterprising spirit have all contributed to a dynamic, original cultural scene. Okay, I am joking, but Santa is very different here in Iceland. According to Icelandic folklore cows gain the power of speech for the night, and seals can take a human form. Becoming acquainted with our holidays, like Bolludagur, or knowing that children carol on Halloween here instead of trick-or-treating, will better help you piece together what it means to be an Icelander. Kids will often walk themselves to school, due to the overwhelming safety that we enjoy here in Iceland. We fear our Santa Clause(s)! The population of Iceland may be just shy of 350,000 people, but that hasn’t stopped the humble nation from developing a rich and diverse cultural heritage that inspires travellers from across the globe. Finally, our customs in Iceland may seem very strange for first-time visitors. The cuisine is definitely an acquired taste; delicacies include smoked lamb, seared lamb’s head, putrefied shark, ram’s testicles and flatbread, all washed down with Icelandic spirits. Almost Crime Free. Prior to the 20th century, Icelandic art was influenced by northern European traditions. This time men do the treating, buying flowers or other traditional gifts for the significant women in their lives. Funny enough, some Danish baking traditions are still practiced in Iceland but have died out in Denmark. Women’s Day is celebrated by giving flowers and presents to wives and girlfriends. The tradition of culinary excess during winter continues with bolludagur – literally, bun day – which occurs two days before Lent and symbolises the feast before the fast. Icelandic traditional arts include weaving, silversmithing, and wood carving. I am always knocking on wood, but that is because I am a superstitious person. It is a country that treasures and celebrates its cultural traditions and history whilst championing an innovative and forward-thinking mentality within its society. Medieval Icelandic, the language of the historical-literary tradition, sometimes is called Old Norse. On this day, which usually falls in late January, women give gifts to any significant men in their lives, and often feed them traditional food, related to the Thorri festivites. Here, you can also follow up tapping on wood by saying the numbers “7, 9, and 13”. Sjómannadagur Most of Iceland’s traditional cookie and cake recipes come from Denmark. Sundagarðar 2 • 104 Reykjavík, Iceland. Knocking on wood appears to be a pretty standard practice around the world to dissuade fate from ruing your plans. Iceland's … They have amusing names like Stubby, Gully Gawk, Pot Licker, Door Slammer, etc. Language and Communication Style Icelandic has been said to be virtually unaltered since medieval times, although many Icelanders disagree. It is not an official holiday. Many of the festivities are related to ancient Norse traditions, while others tie in to the Christian calendar, even though nowadays most Icelanders celebrate these events in a secular way. The roots of Icelandic cuisine are to be found in the traditions of Scandinavian cuisine, as Icelandic culture, from its settlement in the 9th century onwards, is a distinctly Nordic culture with a traditional economy based on subsistence farming.Several events in the history of Iceland were of special significance for its cuisine. Our humor can be off-putting for those unaccustomed to it. With a total area of 103,000 km² (39,768 square miles), Iceland is the world’s 18th, and Europe’s 2nd largest island (following Great Britain). Iceland is lucky to have education that is free all the way up through college. Hot pots and pools dominate the cultural sphere here in Iceland. The shortest distances to Iceland’s nearest neighbors are about 280 … Many of the festivities are related to ancient Norse traditions, while others tie in to the Christian calendar, even though nowadays most Icelanders celebrate these events in a secular way. Christmas The challenge was to then pin the bag onto innocent passersby. Icelanders have several unique holidays and celebrate the more common ones in special ways. Traditional dishes include ptarmigan, smoked lamb or smoked pork and pickled red cabbage. Outside can mean parks, stoops, or wherever we park them. The mainstays of Icelandic cuisine are fresh, locally sourced lamb and fish dishes. To get a better idea, I am going to list some of the more common conventions that we have here in Iceland. However, it is who we are as a people. Icelandic literature traces its beginnings back to the 13th century, when sagas were written in the Old Norse language. Bóndadagur Alongside historic traditions, quirky new rituals have sprung up in Iceland in modern times, from queueing in snowstorms to buy ice cream after swimming at the local … Handshaking is the normal form of greeting. 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