In Iceland, people believe in elves, or Huldufólk (hidden people). Once dinner is finished (and the dishwasher stacked if your parents were particularly cruel) it's time to open the presents. The first of these marches, however, took place all the way back in 1932 to protest the number of working hours in a week. Shops are also open very late for the many who leave their Christmas buying frenzy until the last minute. and also including potatoes prepared in many different ways. Traditional dishes include ptarmigan, smoked lamb or smoked pork and pickled red cabbage. Grýla is also mother to the 13 Yule Lads, mischievous characters who come down from the mountains at Christmas to give good children presents and shun the naughty with rotten potatoes. This is washed down with a non-alcoholic Christmas drink called Christmas Ale (jólaöl) which is a mixture of an Icelandic orange soda (Appelsín) and a syrupy malted beverage (straight-forwardly called 'Malt'). Or just cake and singing? Across the country, workplaces are closed, and people partake in festivities to celebrate; the largest party, however, is in Reykjavík. Shops will be closed, and you will have to make dinner reservations if you plan on eating out. Join in the merriments, and grab an Icelandic flag to wave, all are welcome! The Kingdom of Iceland became a republic in 1944, and June 17 was chosen because it was the birthday of Jon Sigurosson, a 19th-century leader of the campaign for Iceland's independence. T he quirks and traditions of weddings are charming and unique in every region of the world. Nearly everything is guaranteed to be closed after this time. As well as offices and school, many shops will be closed and this is one of the most popular days for young Icelanders to be confirmed. Island Traditions, Inc. (Est. Iceland has many age-old traditions during Christmastime, including the arrival of 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses. Þorláksmessa The first Santa appears 13 days before Christmas and then the others follow, one each day. 1993) PO Box 240040, Honolulu, HI 96824 Tel: (808)845-6677 HST email: Info@IslandTraditions.com Providing our guests with a 5 course wedding meal. Independence Day 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. Add to Basket. During the summertime, Icelandic sheep are left to graze freely in the mountains and valleys, but in September the farmers go out on their horses, accompanied by their sheep dogs to find them and bring them home. Sign up for our monthly newsletter on all things Icelandic. Commerce Day falls on the first Monday of August and it has been observed in Iceland since 1894. Today Icelanders have adopted American and European wedding traditions for the most part, but the traditional Icelandic weddings traditions were far more elaborate. Much can be said for Christmas in Iceland, enough to fill a whole article in fact, such as this one. Be prepared for long lines! Iceland Syrup Sponge Pudding 115g (6 customer reviews) £1.00. Continue reading to learn all about the history of the Icelandic people. This is not a day for Icelanders to hone their humour but rather, Whit Sunday, also known as 'Pentecost Monday' is once again a Christian holiday, and it occurs 10-days after Ascension Day. My family always gets together at noon to have Ris A L'Amande - a rice pudding with one almond in it. Many outdated rules regarding the observance of these dates still linger in Icelandic law although they are rarely enforced. Where do you need to travel to find the most spectacular waterfalls? What impact did they have and how did their mischiefs shape what is now considered the most peaceful of nations? Parents give children a summer gift, an Icelandic tradition which is 400-years older than the custom of giving presents at Christmas. Read on to learn about these fas... How long has Iceland been inhabited? 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. The origin of these Santas is centuries old, and each has a name, character, and role. The majority, however, are quite hungover and considering gym memberships or busy making new year's resolutions to never drink again. In Reykjavík, however, many bars and restaurants will still be open for business and those who do have to work can look forward to being paid extra to show up on these dates. Th… This “book flood” is responsible for most of Iceland’s book purchases for the entire year. The first true day of summer is widely regarded as the day a migratory bird, the Golden Plover (Lóa), returns to the island to nest. Culture Tips. 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. They remain up for about two weeks, which most Icelanders consider the perfect length of time. Öskudagur Discover their traditions, tiny houses and the people who've met them. What are some Japanese birthday traditions and customs, and how do they differ from what we might be used to? According to tradition, boys who are to be circumcised get to wear a pretty flashy outfit (complete with a scepter) and celebrate with a party that’s comparable to a big birthday. However, due to the rise in tourism in recent years, an increasing number of restaurants and bars are open in the city centre, and those poor souls dragged into work, get paid double! Icelanders will enjoy a lavish multi-course meal with family before heading out to feel the warm glow of a bonfire. If you plan to attend, you will need to think ahead as spaces on the ferry fill up fast! What does it mean? There is a large camping and music festival in Akureyri as well as Innipúkinn (which translates to 'Indoor Imp') within Reykjavík which features live music and an outdoor market. Most Icelanders buy their own fireworks and set them off at midnight to welcome in the New Year. It can also be called the 'Holiday of the Merchants' as it is a day to award shopkeepers and traders a day off. Families will often plan Easter Egg hunts and children are challenged to find their chocolatey reward. Thorrablót The Saturday between these two days often entails Icelanders bombarding the shops while they're open, to stock up on supplies to last until Tuesday. Sumardagurinn fyrsti What Icelanders get up to on New Year's Day (Nýársdagur) is not radically different from people all over the world. Are you considering visiting during one of these public holidays? The interior and exterior of peoples' homes will be extensively decorated, and Icelandic Christmas songs will fill the air. A large number of 13-14-year-olds go through civil or religious confirmation at this time, a common rite of passage for adolescents in Iceland. Icelanders spend this day scoffing what's left of their Easter eggs or returning from holiday homes in the countryside if they've spent their long weekend out of town. Traditionally, Icelanders would leave the lights on, and their doors unlocked to encourage a visit from these mystical creatures, considered good luck for the coming year. TOP 10 Icelandic Christmas foods & drinks: #1. This bank holiday, the first Monday in August, celebrates shopkeepers and other merchants. It is the 10 of November of each year, date in which commemorates the birth of the Argentine poet Jose Hernandez, writer of the Martin Fierro , One of the reference works on national customs.. 87p per 100 g 3 for £2.00 . What are your experiences of festivities in Iceland? This is a great opportunity to sample the eclectic and exciting nightlife Reykjavík has to offer. I then have my own tradition of going round my friend's houses with a red Santa hat delivering presents. The 'Second (day) of Christmas' (annar í jólum) is also a public holiday, and it is savoured in a very similar fashion to Christmas Day. We would love to hear your stories and explanations. Sjómannadagur Christmas is celebrated on 24 December promptly at 6pm in the evening. A religious holiday in Iceland and marked by the giving and receiving of large chocolate eggs filled with sweets. What is the ‘right’ way to do it? As you will read about later, the locals push the boat out to celebrate the New Year, and parties in Reykjavík's bars only begin at Midnight. In folklore, New Year's Eve is thought to be a mystical evening in which the dead can rise from their graves, and magical mischief-makers such as elves and 'hidden people' are highly active. Cadbury Milk Chocolate Mini Rolls x 10 (3 customer reviews) £2.00. Presents are opened after Christmas dinner, which is a fairly formal affair. Easter is a favourite time of year for many Icelanders; they can enjoy a large amount of delicious food as well as time off work with family without the stress of Christmas shopping. How large is the landmass, and how was it formed? It's a good idea to try to get to higher ground to marvel at this awesome display. Jólabókaflóðið, Iceland's long-running Christmas tradition, involves books, bed, and chocolate—all our favorite things. Bolludagur Lopapeysa sweater. Swathes of people flock to the Downtown area to watch the parade and outdoor concerts, admire vintage cars gathered by Harpa Concert Hall and buy helium balloons for their children. Which historical Icelanders were the most notorious? 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. What are the country's biggest industries, and what language do the Icelanders speak? I think Reykjavik is a beautiful city all year long, but Christmas time, that is when this little city really shines. They must find and kill a … Discover a wide range of Mountain Tours Why not join this Mo... What is the current population of Iceland? 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. Young Icelanders especially attend en masse equipped with Icelandic sweaters, guitars and high spirits. Visit us on Facebook or drop us a note using our contact form here! Iceland Holidays and Festivals. The Wednesday preceding Maundy Thursday is treated as a weekend in Reykjavík as bars are open late until 03:00 or 04:30 in the morning since many people do not have work the next day (bars usually close at 01:00 AM on weekdays). The candles and twinkling fairy lights of this period bring an element of joy to these otherwise dark and cold winter months and the Christmas spirit is embraced as early as mid-November. August 22: Culture Night, Reykjavík (free admission to museums, other free events) September: Réttir (sheep roundup across Iceland) September 2–6 (likely): Reykjavík Jazz Festival. There are national holidays on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. Around Late February early March each year Icelanders celebrate Bolludagur (Bun Day), Sprengidagur (Shrove Tuesday) and Oskudagur (Ash Wednesday). How long is the period in which you can experience the midnight sun in Iceland? Each egg contains an Icelandic proverb which is a highlight of busting open these chocolate treasure chests. Traditionally, Icelanders were encouraged to eat to bursting point, during what would be their last proper meal before Lent. Konudagur How do you sleep during the... Iceland is a country of many amazing waterfalls, but which are the best ones? Surely a treacherous time agical things are said to take place on this evening, including rumours that cows can speak! Instead, indulge in a bit of Icelandic culture and join in the festivities. This time men do the treating, buying flowers or other traditional gifts for the significant women in their lives. Easter (Páska) celebrations are extensive in Iceland and result in a five-day weekend for locals. Ham, smoked lamb and ptarmigan – these 3 main meat dishes are by far the most common and popular Christmas cuisines that every Icelander will eat on Christmas Eve. Where did they come from? In years gone by, Icelandic weddings could last for a week at a time, often in the bride’s home or the church in the bride’s hometown. Schools and workplaces are closed although restaurants and bars will be open in the centre of Reykjavík. This 50-minute satire has been running since 1966, and over 90% of the Icelandic population dutifully tune in every year. Thorri, or Þorri as we call it, is the personification of winter and frost in Norse mythology, and Icelanders celebrate it with a festival called Thorrablot. It’s impossible to eat just one. As soon as Áramótaskaup finishes, the real fireworks show begins with the bulk of explosives peak in the half an hour after Midnight. Just like Christmas Eve, the afternoon of the 31st is a bank holiday and public transport in Reykjavík usually runs until 16:00. Celebrate New Years like a true Icelander and join a bonfire and firework tour as well as a slap-up meal in one of Reykjavík's top restaurants here. In Reykjavík, people take to the streets to demonstrate against misgivings they may have with the current state of affairs and the procession is led by a brass band down the main shopping street, Laugavegur. Love letters: In early Iceland, we found that love letters were the foundation of … The origin of these Santas is centuries old, and each has a name, character, and role. The occasion is marked by various fireworks displays and bonfires. Anyone can light fireworks, and many do, resulting in one of the most magnificent and breath-taking informal firework displays you could ever hope to see. Where and how can you join the festivities and enjoy an authentic Icelandic experience? The people hold celebrations throughout the country but the largest celebration takes place in Reykjavik and includes parades, dancing and street performers. There are four active folk dance ensembles in Iceland. In recent years, this custom has reflected Iceland's often progressive attitudes towards LGBTQ rights and the Fjallakona title has been bestowed upon a trans woman as well as a drag queen. Many choose to go for a Christmas walk to burn some of those over-indulgent calories. As with Good Friday, Easter Sunday is officially mandated as a day of solemn Christian observance, although in reality there is a lot more merriment to be had than there is prescribed by law. My daughter will be celebrating her 6th birthday there this april. Most Icelanders use real trees, as opposed to artificial ones. Some will use this day to indulge in festivities with extended family, attending large buffets at a relative's house or hosting one themselves. Visiting Iceland in its Yuletide glory is a special experience, guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and cosy on the inside. The main supermarkets will be closed; however bars and restaurants will be open for business and tours are likely to run as normal. 32p per 1 unit As seen on TV. The day is the birthday of the country’s independence hero, Jón Sigurdsson. After plenty of family time, many choose to go out partying in the nighttime as the bars are open late and people don't have work the next day. It is not an official holiday. There are numerous outdoor festivals which take place around the country featuring live music and fireworks. 'Sumardagurinn fyrsti', the First Day of Summer has been a public holiday since 1971, but its history goes back further to when Icelanders used the Old Norse calendar which was divided into just two seasons: summer and winter. Are there waterfalls all around the country? You tell us! The majority of Icelander's will enjoy a day off to spend with family and partake in outdoor activities. 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. Biblically, it marks the day that the Holy Spirit was revealed to the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ. Iceland Luxury 6 All Butter Mince Pies (46 customer reviews) £1.89. Older family members will regularly be requested to explain these witticisms as they can be quite cryptic. The first day of the ancient Norse month of Thorri begins with bóndadagur, or 'husband's day'. Icelanders meet friends to drink, dance and discuss the skaupið and don't stop until the next morning. There is a day in Argentina to celebrate its traditions. It is traditional for Icelandic children to receive a piece of clothing for Christmas otherwise, they are in danger of being devoured by the dreaded Christmas Cat. 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. Who were the first Icelanders? At midnight there is a spectacle of fireworks when almost every home in Iceland will light its own fireworks. Bóndadagur The annual sheep round-up is one of Iceland’s oldest cultural traditions which is carried on all around the countryside. 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! Traditionally, all shops were closed on the 1st of January, and the Downtown of Reykjavík mostly resembled a ghost town. Follow us on the following social networks and websites. The Icelandic calendar is rich in bank holidays, boasting no less than fifteen leisurely days a year. Bakeries and home chefs prepare sweet cream puffs filled with cream and jam and drizzled with chocolate. Icelandic traditional arts include weaving, silversmithing, and wood carving.The Reykjavík area has several professional theaters, a symphony orchestra, an opera and many art galleries, bookstores, cinemas and museums. Christmas traditions around the world are diverse, but share key traits that often involve themes of light, evergreens and hope. There are countless Christmas traditions, many of which are a blend of Christian religious practices and traditional folklore. A majority of the working population, as well as students and school children, can enjoy these days off in the embrace of family and friends. Every year, a wreath is laid at the base of his statue in Austurvöllur square in Reykjavík to commemorate his contribution to the fight for independence. She is much feared by Icelandic children and an effective bargaining tool to encourage them to behave. As a large proportion of people choose to imbibe, many spend their New Years Day feeling rather... fragile. The meat dishes are typically served with side dishes such as peas, corn, cabbage, beans, gravy, jam, etc. Even among the states, a California wedding is much different than a Virginian one. By law, all shops are closed on Good Friday so be sure to stock up on provisions beforehand. If you find yourself in the Westfjords, you could attend the European Swamp Soccer Championships (Mýrarboltinn), one of the strangest sporting events whereby players battle through a muddy mire to score goals. Yes, despite seemingly promoting piety on paper, the long Easter weekend can, in reality, be quite a boozy holiday. More on Icelandic Christmas. Independence Day Make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Facebook comments box below. It's free to play, and there are prizes to be won! Supermarkets will still be closed, but restaurants and bars in the centre of Reykjavík will mostly function as normal. The Christmas Traditions of Iceland December has arrived, along with record breaking amounts of snow , turning Reykjavik into a winter wonderland. Discover Iceland Holidays, Festivals and Traditions. Icelanders decorate the interior and exterior of their houses extensively, in an effort to brighten up the dark winter days and nights. Jónsmessa Although it is a gauchesque dye celebration, it is the moment chosen to pay homage to the national tradition in any of its forms. Beautifully decorated with a toy chick and fake flowers, Icelandic Easter eggs are packed full of candy on the inside as well as delicious chocolate on the outside. 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. Traditionally, dancing and other outward signs of merriment were strictly banned over the Christmas period. Just be sure to have your shopping finished as the shops won't be open until Saturday! Most Icelanders will not be entirely sure of the meaning of this observance but will welcome another day free from school or work. New Year’s Eve Midsummer Night, The longest day of the year, is endowed with great mystical powers. Although less than 50% of Icelanders would consider themselves religious, the history of Christian rule is still evident in the nation's calendar. There is an old superstition that if the temperature drops below zero the night before Sumardagurinn fyrsti, it is a favourable auspice for a fair summer to come. As in countries the world over, May Day in Iceland is a day for general protest. The annual 'Lady of the Mountain' or Fjallakona in Icelandic, is crowned as part of the parade and she symbolises the Icelandic spirit and nature, especially in the context of independence as a feminine resistance to the King of Denmark. Throughout the month of Thorri, locals congregate to eat, drink and be merry. Whoever gets the almond wins a price, but you can't show the almond until the pudding is finished. Being circumcised is a monumental event in any Turkish boy’s life because it marks the transition toward manhood. The farmers invite family, friends and anyone who is interested to help them out during the rounding-up process. You can expect supermarkets and shops to be closed, but more bars and restaurants will be open than the night before. Events can take place all over the country, however, the largest demonstration is in Reykjavík. For many, this signifies the beginning of Christmas. Traditionally, Good Friday is lawfully delineated as a day for solemn contemplation; dancing, gambling, drinking or going to cinema used to be strictly forbidden and technically, illegal. September 24–October 4: Reykjavík International Film Festival. As a form of protest to these strict Christian laws, Icelandic atheists gather in the square Austurvöllur in Downtown Reykjavík to play a rebellious game of Good Friday Bingo. Christmas Eve is generally celebrated at home, and it officially begins at 18:00, marked by the tolling of the bells of Hallgrímskirkja church. The Kingdom of Iceland became a republic in 1944, and June 17 was chosen because it was the birthday of Jon Sigurosson, a 19th-century leader of the campaign for Iceland's independence. What is Guide to Iceland? Traditional Christmas dishes include ptarmigan (rjúpa), smoked lamb (hangikjöt), smoked pork (hamborgarhryggur), and sometimes reindeer, accompanied by pickled red cabbage and other sides. Many public holidays are steeped in unique celebratory traditions, and the shared practice of these customs creates a strong feeling of community. The tradition is to decorate them just a day or two before Christmas, on the 23rd, or even on Christmas Eve day. If Icelanders are working in the morning, they will hurry home to prepare for the evening's festivities. After Christmas, they leave one by one for 13 more days. Christmas Eve is somewhat of a formal affair, and people will wash and dress-up for the occasion. This is when elves and trolls come out and celebrate with the Icelanders, dancing and singing. Answer 1 of 5: Do people in Iceland do anything different? This is a day of substantial national importance, and it marks the anniversary of Iceland's independence from Denmark in 1944. This is celebrated with the gathering of family and friends at home and visits to the local bonfire. 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. ... 8 Facts About Jane Austen on Her 245th Birthday. Easter Verslunarmannahelgi Ash Wednesday is mostly celebrated by children in Iceland. These laws are observed to the degree that bars close at midnight on Maundy Thursday and do not open again until Good Friday is over, exactly 24-hours later. Another free day for schools and offices, Easter Monday does not entail the same religious militancy as Good Friday and Easter Sunday. During these days, you can expect most stores to be closed. In First Day of Summer is celebrated in Iceland with a holiday on the third Thursday in April. Continue... See a selection of wonderful photographs that capture the magic of the Northern Lights throughout Iceland. How long does a sunset or a sunrise last? Most Icelandic children in their 14th year are confirmed during the Easter period. Many swimming pools in Reykjavík are open on Maundy Thursday and Icelanders love to spend their vacation time soaking in the hot pools and hopefully, the sunshine. Icelandic natives turn their weddings into a span of a few day celebrations. While the majority of the traditional ways to celebrate a birthday (e.g. November 16, 2010. Today children celebrate the day by dressing up in costumes and singing in shops for sweets and treats, a little like Hallowe’en celebrations. The culture of Iceland is rich and varied as well as being known for its literary heritage which began in the 12th century. In the afternoon, it's common to celebrate with a home cooked meal which traditionally, is a roasted leg of lamb with all the trimmings. ... Elf Crossing, Iceland Iceland takes their Christmas festivities very seriously — they even have 13 Santas. Are shops and restaurants open during official vacation days in Iceland? This bank holiday weekend is called Verslumannahelgi, and many people leave the city to camp or relax in a summer house. In Reykjavík, bars open after Midnight and only close in the early hours of the morning. Be prepared for one of the wildest parties of your life! In addition to the traditional holidays listed here, numerous festivals take place throughout the year. This fanfare is relayed on the radio, and families gather to listen in anticipation of the coming Yuletide. 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. Traditionally ashes were collected into small ash bags. My daughter will be celebrating her 6th birthday there this april. Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus Christ's Last Supper with his thirteen disciples and it marks the beginning of Easter. You can hear the rumble and squeals of fireworks throughout the evening but silence descends promptly at 22:30 as the Áramótaskaup (or 'skaupið') begins, a comedy sketch show that comments upon the year's events. The month of Thorri comes to an end with 'wife's day', a day to celebrate women. 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