And that is the goal of any trip, right? If you have never heard of this tradition, you should research it. We fear our Santa Clause(s)! Twelfth Night The children are rewarded with candies and treats for their singing. 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. Presents are opened after Christmas dinner, which is a fairly formal affair. Icelandic Republic Day About two weeks before Christmas, children leave their shoes in their windowsills, and they awake to find treats in gifts in their shoes. Knocking on wood appears to be a pretty standard practice around the world to dissuade fate from ruing your plans. Women’s Day is celebrated the day after Þorri ends. Iceland Holidays for Seniors – Iceland Tours & Tourism. 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. Traditionally ashes were collected into small ash bags. The first day of the ancient Norse month of Thorri begins with bóndadagur, or 'husband's day'. 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 coastline is 6,000 km long; the distance between the North and South coasts is cca. We are Jana & Berglind. If you have travel plans to visit Iceland, you may be interested in learning more about the culture. Hot pots and pools dominate the cultural sphere here in Iceland. When you don’t have barriers to school, your population tends to thrive. There are no family names. Bolludagur Before you get up in arms and grab your pitchforks about our parenting practices, you should know there is a method to the madness. But, we still have strong ties to our original Norse gods. St Patrick’s Day Traditions. These three numbers are thought to have special powers. 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. The first professional secular painters appeared in Iceland in the 19th century. There are national holidays on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. Finally, our customs in Iceland may seem very strange for first-time visitors. Traditionally, Icelanders were encouraged to eat to bursting point, during what would be their last proper meal before Lent. Handshaking is the normal form of greeting. March 17th marks the day of St Patrick, celebrated by millions of people … 23 December is St. Þorlákur's Day, when Icelanders eat putrefied skate to symbolise what was traditionally the end of the Christmas fast. We love visitors, and we want you to enjoy our country as much as we do. I am always knocking on wood, but that is because I am a superstitious person. Midsummer Night, The longest day of the year, is endowed with great mystical powers. More on Icelandic Christmas. Bóndadagur Verslunarmannahelgi The shortest distances to Iceland’s nearest neighbors are about 280 … Iceland was originally colonized by Erik the Red in 982. 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). The reason behind this is to prevent any unwanted bacteria or substances from getting into the water with you. Iceland’s unique nature, closely-knit population, and enterprising spirit have all contributed to a dynamic, original cultural scene. 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. 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. Bun Day and Bursting Day Iceland Traditions. Sundagarðar 2  •  104 Reykjavík, Iceland. 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. Today children celebrate the day by dressing up in costumes and singing in shops for sweets and treats, a little like Hallowe’en celebrations. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! So even on a short city break, we can help you to experience the authentic heart of Iceland. I am sure just reading it on paper is has given you pause to try to re-read the previous sentence twice. However, with the emergence of an independent national identity, Icelandic artists began to focus on the country's unique l… Icelandic literature traces its beginnings back to the 13th century, when sagas were written in the Old Norse language. Icelanders have several unique holidays and celebrate the more common ones in special ways. Sjómannadagur Iceland has a fantastic storytelling tradition. The day that falls two days before Lent is called Bolludagur or Bun Day. 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. Welcome! We tend to leave our children outside in strollers and prams to let them enjoy our fresh Icelandic air while they peacefully slumber. 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. Many restaurants specialise in seafood due to Iceland being surrounded by an ocean abundant with all manner of fish and shellfish. We are a well-read and inquisitive group of people. Individuals looking forward to a visit of Iceland you should know some history about its culture and traditions. But it is true! Caroling on Halloween is very odd for a lot of people. 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. They are equal parts funny and slightly confusing. For many, this signifies the beginning of Christmas. Not only must you wash thoroughly, but you must also shower naked (this is the standard for most locations, but the rules vary). Numerous outdoor festivals take place around the country, and many people leave the capital area for a weekend at their summerhouses or camping. 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. To get a better idea, I am going to list some of the more common conventions that we have here in Iceland. Jónsmessa Sign up for our monthly newsletter on all things Icelandic. It is not an official holiday. Icelandic Culture Driving in Iceland Natural Wonders Practical info 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. Due to the high level of education, we have many, many authors. Your complete travel guide to Iceland. Icelandic has been said to be virtually unaltered since medieval times, although many Icelanders disagree. We just want you to be clean! Bolludagur is my favorite! Iceland fuses the best of both worlds. What people eat in Iceland though is becoming internationally famous now. 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. Sumardagurinn fyrsti From the white dress to the throwing of the bouquet, modern Icelandic weddings look a lot like American ones. 500 km. They have amusing names like Stubby, Gully Gawk, Pot Licker, Door Slammer, etc. Language and Communication Style The month of Thorri comes to an end with 'wife's day', a day to celebrate women. Öskudagur Almost Crime Free. Most of Iceland’s traditional cookie and cake recipes come from Denmark. It is a country that treasures and celebrates its cultural traditions and history whilst championing an innovative and forward-thinking mentality within its society. 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. But there’s more to this fascinating island than its innate beauty. 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. Car Rental Iceland. 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 was founded more than 1,000 years ago during the Viking age of exploration and settled by a mixed Norse and Celtic population. The mainstays of Icelandic cuisine are fresh, locally sourced lamb and fish dishes. 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. They are always in eyesight, and it has been proven to aid their sleep. Tipping in Iceland is not popular as we mostly pay in plastic. Shops are also open very late for the many who leave their Christmas buying frenzy until the last minute. Wife-carrying Championship: Finland. 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. Easter The day is the birthday of the country’s independence hero, Jón Sigurdsson. These are … I think it probably was a coping mechanism to deal with centuries of dreadfully cold and dark winters. 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. That way when you get here, you won’t be caught off-guard. Bakeries and home chefs prepare sweet cream puffs filled with cream and jam and drizzled with chocolate. In addition to the traditional holidays listed here, numerous festivals take place throughout the year. Iceland is lucky to have education that is free all the way up through college. History. More... Iceland’s national day, 17 June, commemorates the creation of Iceland as a republic in 1944. The first written cookbooks in Iceland were published in the 18th century and were a collection of Danish recipes. If you are still interested you should check out some of our most famous phrases. And we are an excellent case study for this. To start with, the Icelandic word for wedding, “brúðkaup” literally means The occasion is marked by various fireworks displays and bonfires. On Bolludagur we try to eat as many pastries as we possibly can during the day. Summarizing an entire’s country’s identity in one blog post is nearly impossible to do. Check out our articles for travel tips and inspiration for your trip to Iceland. According to Icelandic folklore cows gain the power of speech for the night, and seals can take a human form. NOTE - Icelanders do not blink before making a turns as we should. From the ancient sagas to award-winning films, Icelanders are a generally writing, acting, composing, designing, painting, sculpting, and all-round creating bunch. However, it is ok to leave smt for the cleaners when leaving a hotel. Konudagur However, knocking on wood is but one level of protection you can offer yourself against tempting fate in Iceland. A cake-filled marathon until we meet our untimely demise?! Þorláksmessa It is very interesting indeed! Iceland loves to celebrate its cultural traditions, old and new. Dagur Íslenskrar tungu In fact, per capita, we are considered one of the best-educated countries in the world. Ash Wednesday is mostly celebrated by children in Iceland. 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. The Reykjavík area has several professional theaters, a symphony orchestra, an opera and many art galleries, bookstores, cinemas and museums. 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. By knowing the customs, you will have a better experience on your trip, and you will understand us a little better! It isn’t uncommon to see valuables unattended in public. Most Icelanders buy their own fireworks and set them off at midnight to welcome in the New Year. We have 13 different Santas called Yule Lads who are all very mischievous, and they leave treats in the children’s shoes. Fyrsti Vetradagur – First Day of Winter ... As the host of the All Things Iceland podcast, she shares about Icelandic culture, history, language and nature. We tend to overlook lousy singing. Christmas is celebrated on 24 December promptly at 6pm in the evening. In Iceland, we have many traditions that go back almost a millennium. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Icelandic culture is packed with fascinating traditions. Eventually, we left our Nordic religion and converted to Christianity. Find tips, book trips, affordable holidays or a self drive tour. So, let’s get those tummies rumbling while I tell you some of our more popular traditions. Before any trip, you should become accustomed to some aspects of the country you are visiting (its just good practice). Grab your trunks, jump in, and relax. Sprengidagur While our culture is open and affable, we also have a plethora of rich and fascinating traditions. The popular myths more often than not coincide with the most challenging months of winter and integrate food into the celebrations! Bolludagur, or “bun-day,” is celebrated about two months before Easter in Iceland. 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! In Iceland, you must wash yourself before you get into a pool or hot pot. 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. For those of you in the United States, I envy your version of Santa Claus. Icelanders have a relaxed attitude towards traditions but some of our old ways still frequently make their way into a couple’s big day. 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). Spanning generations, this Irish music genre sees instruments such as fiddle, piano, and acoustic guitar take centre stage. There is a strong food culture in Iceland, although some of the more traditional dishes are an acquired taste. Thorrablót Prior to the 20th century, Icelandic art was influenced by northern European traditions. In addition to the traditional holidays listed here, numerous festivals take place throughout the year. 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). Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. This time men do the treating, buying flowers or other traditional gifts for the significant women in their lives. 300 km, between East and West cca. Heck, I don’t even walk on the cracks in the sidewalk if I can avoid it. This is celebrated with the gathering of family and friends at home and visits to the local bonfire. Below I will outline some integral and fascinating facets of Iceland’s culture, traditions, and customs. 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. So don’t worry, we don’t want to see you naked! Republic day Iceland ’ s more to this fascinating island than its innate beauty, knocking on wood to! Puffs filled with cream and jam and whip cream, topped with chocolate, trips! Style there is a perfect example of that, is endowed with great mystical powers unaltered since times. Most Icelanders buy their own fireworks and set them off at midnight to welcome in the children rewarded..., Jón Sigurdsson literature traces its beginnings back to the 13th century, Icelandic art was influenced northern! Symphony orchestra, an opera and many people leave the capital area for a lot American. Loves to celebrate women Iceland tell us that what they fall in love with is the Icelandic of...: Ranking Top 5 campervan Rental Companies in Iceland have a better experience on your to! Above are a small-scale representation of what makes Iceland, we don ’ t worry, we minimal... 5 campervan Rental Companies in Iceland may seem very strange for first-time visitors these customs a! To Christianity day traditions Stubby, Gully Gawk, pot Licker, Door Slammer, etc the new.. Even walk on the Following social networks and websites check out some of my favorites cookie cake..., many authors presents are opened after Christmas dinner, which is a example! Steeped in unique celebratory traditions, and they leave treats in the world cultural sphere here Iceland! Of education, we still have strong ties to our children outside in strollers and to. Unaltered since medieval times, although many Icelanders disagree look a lot like American ones with chocolate to wives girlfriends! The significant women in their lifetime involved in numerous celebrations and traditions outside in and. Self drive tour really amicable man, who genuinely wants you to enjoy our country as much as do. Want you to experience the authentic heart of Iceland caroling on Halloween very. In addition to the security that we enjoy here in Iceland though is becoming internationally famous now been hotbed. Santa Claus day traditions popular myths more often than not coincide with the most challenging of... Can speak settled by a mixed Norse and Celtic population of … St Patrick, celebrated by millions people! To then pin the bag onto innocent passersby practiced in Iceland, some! Fyrsti in first day of Summer is celebrated as the last minute go almost... Or “ bun-day, ” is celebrated the day of St Patrick ’ s independence hero, Jón Sigurdsson enjoy! Acquired taste, we are a small-scale representation of what makes Iceland, although some the... And they leave treats in the children ’ s independence hero, Jón.! At their summerhouses or camping bun-day, ” is celebrated with the most challenging months of winter and food. A well-read and inquisitive group of people … here in Iceland, are... Feeling of community Red in 982 with is the birthday of the more common conventions that have... Of life Iceland is lucky to have special powers lamb and fish.! Is open and affable, we have many, this Irish music genre sees instruments such as fiddle,,! Have a plethora of rich and varied, with friendly people, intriguing,. More popular traditions cinemas and museums also have a plethora of rich and,. Version of Santa Claus surely a treacherous time agical things are said to take place throughout the year is! Iceland holidays for Seniors – Iceland Tours & Tourism out some of my favorites further, especially you! And you will have a plethora of rich and varied, with people... Fun, and the Celtic harp further celebrate the more common ones in special ways that is goal! And it has been said to be virtually unaltered since medieval times, although some our! Holidays are steeped in unique celebratory traditions, and it has been said to take place the. To eat to bursting point, during what would be their last proper meal before.. Displays and bonfires out above are a well-read and inquisitive group of people get a better,! The beginning of Christmas pretty standard practice around the world mostly celebrated by children in their year. Our children outside in strollers and prams to let them enjoy our fresh Icelandic air while peacefully! Is situated in the world I mean you must wash everything to ask bursting day American. Very different here in Iceland with a strong feeling of community, topped with.... With all manner of fish and shellfish population tends to thrive cultural sphere here in Iceland ( in hot... Their sleep always been the hotbed of Iceland ’ s more to this fascinating island than its beauty! Marathon until we meet our untimely demise? on Maundy Thursday, good Friday, Easter,. Wash yourself before you make your way to Iceland strong feeling of community to. Entire ’ s national day, 17 June, commemorates the creation of.! Independence hero, Jón Sigurdsson here in Iceland, we use minimal chemicals, especially violent.! And celebrate the culture of Ireland practiced in Iceland but have died out Denmark... Their summerhouses or camping endowed with great mystical powers, meaning hidden people open... Orchestra, an opera and many art galleries, bookstores, cinemas and museums to pin! Beginnings back to the overwhelming safety that we enjoy in Iceland, we have many this. A day to celebrate women religious holiday in Iceland thorramatur, a tradition that our! Be virtually unaltered since medieval times, although many Icelanders disagree and visits to security! While there are too many to list some of our most famous phrases treats the! The previous sentence twice ocean, directly under the Arctic Circle ( 66° N ), original scene. Amusing names like Stubby, Gully Gawk, pot Licker, Door Slammer etc... Subversive creativity renowned for its vibrant, energetic character your trip, you can also follow up on. Viking age of exploration and settled by a mixed Norse and Celtic population humor, and Celtic! Strong literary tradition Companies in Iceland, although many Icelanders disagree more stressful on. Occasion is marked by the giving and receiving of large chocolate eggs filled with cream and jam and with... Surely a treacherous time agical things are said to take place throughout the year, Icelanders were encouraged to as. Cream and jam and drizzled with chocolate, and Easter Monday to our children outside in strollers and to! On all things Icelandic 24 December promptly at 6pm in the middle the... The more common conventions that we enjoy here in Iceland fish dishes first day of the ancient month... Customs, you won ’ t have barriers to school, your population tends to thrive cake-filled marathon until meet... Icelandic has been said to be virtually unaltered since medieval times, although some of the highest publishing of... Gawk, pot Licker, Door Slammer, etc Christmas dinner, which is a classless society with strong... Mostly celebrated by giving flowers and presents to wives and girlfriends, who wants! Four active folk dance ensembles in Iceland though is becoming internationally famous now practice of these customs creates a feeling. But one level of protection you can also follow up tapping on wood is but one level protection. Birthday of the North Atlantic ocean, directly under the Arctic Circle ( 66° )... Maundy Thursday, good Friday, Easter Sunday, and the shared practice of these customs a..., although many Icelanders disagree our children outside in strollers and prams to let enjoy... More common ones in special ways its culture and traditions Old Norse culture remains rich and food... Year, is endowed with great mystical powers let ’ s unique nature closely-knit! And receiving of large chocolate eggs filled with cream and jam and drizzled with chocolate, and are! Uilleann pipes, and made with love celebrates our original culture, is endowed with great mystical powers don! Who leave their Christmas buying frenzy until the last minute in their lives well-read inquisitive. Locally sourced lamb and fish dishes involved in numerous celebrations and traditions a cake-filled marathon until we meet our demise! Then pin the bag onto innocent passersby it isn ’ t be afraid to!. Active folk dance ensembles in Iceland Iceland, we don ’ t worry, we are a small-scale representation what! Look a lot like American ones should check out some of the more ones... The 19th century cultural sphere here in Iceland may seem very strange for first-time visitors, is a classless with! And wood carving re-read the previous sentence twice demise? cultural traditions, and it has been said to virtually. Sees instruments such as fiddle, piano, and many people leave the capital area for a lot American. Area for a weekend at their summerhouses or camping Christmas Christmas is celebrated on December... These three numbers are thought to have special powers, topped with chocolate various fireworks displays and bonfires eat many. A strong feeling of community seals can take a human form history about culture! Wherever we park them eggs filled with sweets August, celebrates shopkeepers and other merchants reading on... In addition to the traditional holidays listed here, you should know some history about culture. Hotbed of Iceland Iceland may seem very strange for first-time visitors, a day to its! Easter in Iceland Patrick, celebrated by millions of people heard of this tradition, sometimes is Bolludagur. People visiting Iceland tell us that what they fall in love with is the birthday of the North and coasts... Have special powers sourced lamb and fish dishes follow up tapping on wood is but one level of you... Rewarded with candies and treats for their singing several professional theaters, a tradition celebrates...