Or just cake and singing? Discover their traditions, tiny houses and the people who've met them. For many, this signifies the beginning of Christmas. Probably the most celebrated Visiting Iceland in its Yuletide glory is a special experience, guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and cosy on the inside. You can expect supermarkets and shops to be closed, but more bars and restaurants will be open than the night before. What are the country's biggest industries, and what language do the Icelanders speak? 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'). Once everyone has wished each other a Merry Christmas (Gleðileg Jól), they will sit down for Christmas dinner. It is recommended that you book tables in advance. Bakeries and home chefs prepare sweet cream puffs filled with cream and jam and drizzled with chocolate. 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. Christmas is celebrated on 24 December promptly at 6pm in the evening. Presents are opened after Christmas dinner, which is a fairly formal affair. October 8: John Lennon's birthday and lighting of Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island, Reykjavík While the majority of the traditional ways to celebrate a birthday (e.g. Don’t get caught out and irritated if all the stores are closed (even though locals sometimes complain!). 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. You tell us! Although the weather in April is typically far from summery, the days are becoming longer, and the locals are enthusiastic to put winter behind them. Since fresh shark is poisonous, in order to eat it, you first have to bury it in the … There is a day in Argentina to celebrate its traditions. 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. How has Guide to Iceland changed since its conception? 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. Konudagur As soon as Áramótaskaup finishes, the real fireworks show begins with the bulk of explosives peak in the half an hour after Midnight. Visitors are welcome to watch or, if you're feeling brave, you can join in! 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. 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. Providing our guests with a 5 course wedding meal. Instead, indulge in a bit of Icelandic culture and join in the festivities. What is Guide to Iceland? 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. If you find yourself in the capital region, you can consult this website to see which swimming pools are open. Traditional dishes include ptarmigan, smoked lamb or smoked pork and pickled red cabbage. Families will make use of the long weekend to travel to the countryside to camp or spend time in a summer house. Across the country, workplaces are closed, and people partake in festivities to celebrate; the largest party, however, is in Reykjavík. Religious Icelanders will go to church and some may engage with the age-old custom of snuffing an Easter candle to symbolise Jesus' holy departure from Earth. The challenge was to then pin the bag onto innocent passersby. Follow us on the following social networks and websites. Fermented Shark. This is a day of substantial national importance, and it marks the anniversary of Iceland's independence from Denmark in 1944. Be prepared for long lines! Traditional Christmas dishes include ptarmigan (rjúpa), smoked lamb (hangikjöt), smoked pork (hamborgarhryggur), and sometimes reindeer, accompanied by pickled red cabbage and other sides. Sjómannadagur 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. The occasion is marked by various fireworks displays and bonfires. 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. At midnight there is a spectacle of fireworks when almost every home in Iceland will light its own fireworks. 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! Continue... See a selection of wonderful photographs that capture the magic of the Northern Lights throughout Iceland. Ascension day is a celebration to commemorate Christ's bodily ascension to heaven, and it occurs 40 days after Easter. Swimming pools are usually open, and some supermarkets will have limited opening hours. This fanfare is relayed on the radio, and families gather to listen in anticipation of the coming Yuletide. 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. My daughter will be celebrating her 6th birthday there this april. Families will often plan Easter Egg hunts and children are challenged to find their chocolatey reward. 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. Even among the states, a California wedding is much different than a Virginian one. 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. Just be sure to have your shopping finished as the shops won't be open until Saturday! Jónsmessa This May Day tradition largely stems from the Cold War when there was an active community of communist sympathisers within Iceland who adopted the custom from other left-leaning groups in mainland Europe. More... The majority of Icelander's will enjoy a day off to spend with family and partake in outdoor activities. When was Guide to Iceland founded and why? 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. Traditionally, Icelanders were encouraged to eat to bursting point, during what would be their last proper meal before Lent. It is one of the oldest Christian holidays, and it has been part of the Icelandic Christian calendar since 400 AD. 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. Icelandic natives turn their weddings into a span of a few day celebrations. 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. Around Late February early March each year Icelanders celebrate Bolludagur (Bun Day), Sprengidagur (Shrove Tuesday) and Oskudagur (Ash Wednesday). Events can take place all over the country, however, the largest demonstration is in Reykjavík. The official public holiday starts after noon and public transportation in Reykjavík stops at around 16:00. Many public holidays are steeped in unique celebratory traditions, and the shared practice of these customs creates a strong feeling of community. It's free to play, and there are prizes to be won! The Christmas Traditions of Iceland December has arrived, along with record breaking amounts of snow , turning Reykjavik into a winter wonderland. Each egg contains an Icelandic proverb which is a highlight of busting open these chocolate treasure chests. Religious Icelanders will attend a Midnight Mass. Dip into Iceland's largest we... National Holidays in Iceland | Traditions & Dates, Guide to Iceland | The Story of the Leading Travel Agency of Iceland, A Snapshot of Iceland | Facts, Figures & Information, Intimately experience Icelandic history and culture on a, Find out everything you need to know about the. Th… Visit us on Facebook or drop us a note using our contact form here! Following the indulgence of bun day comes sprengidagur – bursting day. Although less than 50% of Icelanders would consider themselves religious, the history of Christian rule is still evident in the nation's calendar. Many choose to go for a Christmas walk to burn some of those over-indulgent calories. What Icelanders get up to on New Year's Day (Nýársdagur) is not radically different from people all over the world. 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. It can also be called the 'Holiday of the Merchants' as it is a day to award shopkeepers and traders a day off. Schools and workplaces are closed although restaurants and bars will be open in the centre of Reykjavík. September 24–October 4: Reykjavík International Film Festival. This time men do the treating, buying flowers or other traditional gifts for the significant women in their lives. The annual sheep round-up is one of Iceland’s oldest cultural traditions which is carried on all around the countryside. Traditionally, the weather is anything but summery. Today, the tradition still stands: in late September, a free catalog of Iceland’s newest books called the Bokatidindi hits every home’s mailbox, and Icelanders hit the bookstores. Þorláksmessa Love letters: In early Iceland, we found that love letters were the foundation of … Iceland Luxury 6 All Butter Mince Pies (46 customer reviews) £1.89. Nearly everything is guaranteed to be closed after this time. The interior and exterior of peoples' homes will be extensively decorated, and Icelandic Christmas songs will fill the air. The most famous of these festivals is called Þjóðhatið, the 'National Festival' and it is staged on the picturesque Westman Islands. 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. 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. Yes, despite seemingly promoting piety on paper, the long Easter weekend can, in reality, be quite a boozy holiday. Shops will be closed, and you will have to make dinner reservations if you plan on eating out. Alternatively, you could enjoy the outlandish view from the water on this fantastic New Year's cruise. Most Icelanders use real trees, as opposed to artificial ones. Icelanders have several unique holidays and celebrate the more common ones in special ways. Some are grown in Iceland, while others are imported. Read on to learn about these fas... How long has Iceland been inhabited? 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. Save Iceland holidays and events celebrate a variety of musical and cultural highlights, as well as the traditional Christmas and new year festive season, Easter, and Independence Day. (Even the Danish!). If Icelanders are working in the morning, they will hurry home to prepare for the evening's festivities. How long does a sunset or a sunrise last? Iceland’s national day, 17 June, commemorates the creation of Iceland as a republic in 1944. During these days, you can expect most stores to be closed. 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. 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. 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. More on Icelandic Christmas. Which historical Icelanders were the most notorious? Midsummer Night, The longest day of the year, is endowed with great mystical powers. Holding a wedding welcome dinner the evening before our Iceland destination wedding. 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. This 50-minute satire has been running since 1966, and over 90% of the Icelandic population dutifully tune in every year. Continue reading to learn all about the history of the Icelandic people. This bank holiday weekend is called Verslumannahelgi, and many people leave the city to camp or relax in a summer house. Sumardagurinn fyrsti Christmas Eve is somewhat of a formal affair, and people will wash and dress-up for the occasion. It is not an official holiday. Book your complete trip with the best companies only. ... Elf Crossing, Iceland Iceland takes their Christmas festivities very seriously — they even have 13 Santas. Traditionally, all shops were closed on the 1st of January, and the Downtown of Reykjavík mostly resembled a ghost town. Ash Wednesday is mostly celebrated by children in Iceland. There are many more festive days in the Icelandic calendar, however, the dates included in the table above are exclusively bank holidays. This typical Icelandic wool sweater, with the iconic neck design, will last you … Birthdays are acknowledged in Japan, but it might surprise you to hear that they were not celebrated until after the Second World War! Cadbury Milk Chocolate Mini Rolls x 10 (3 customer reviews) £2.00. According to Icelandic folklore cows gain the power of speech for the night, and seals can take a human form. 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. Jólabókaflóðið, Iceland's long-running Christmas tradition, involves books, bed, and chocolate—all our favorite things. A religious holiday in Iceland and marked by the giving and receiving of large chocolate eggs filled with sweets. Verslunarmannahelgi This is when elves and trolls come out and celebrate with the Icelanders, dancing and singing. Independence Day Although the weather can be notoriously bad on the First Day of Summer, Icelanders still celebrate with parades led by brass bands and scouts, outdoor sporting events and live entertainment all over the country. Answer 1 of 5: Do people in Iceland do anything different? As in other Nordic countries, Christmas Eve is the principal day of celebration when people open their presents and much more. Traditionally ashes were collected into small ash bags. 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. Whoever gets the almond wins a price, but you can't show the almond until the pudding is finished. They remain up for about two weeks, which most Icelanders consider the perfect length of time. As a large proportion of people choose to imbibe, many spend their New Years Day feeling rather... fragile. 6 January is celebrated as the last day of Christmas. TOP 10 Icelandic Christmas foods & drinks: #1. How long is the period in which you can experience the midnight sun in Iceland? Today Icelanders have adopted American and European wedding traditions for the most part, but the traditional Icelandic weddings traditions were far more elaborate. 10 Unique Island Traditions for Celebrating the Holidays. In First Day of Summer is celebrated in Iceland with a holiday on the third Thursday in April. Bolludagur It's a good idea to try to get to higher ground to marvel at this awesome display. Iceland has many age-old traditions during Christmastime, including the arrival of 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses. In Reykjavík, bars open after Midnight and only close in the early hours of the morning. Once dinner is finished (and the dishwasher stacked if your parents were particularly cruel) it's time to open the presents. The culture of Iceland is rich and varied as well as being known for its literary heritage which began in the 12th century. Christmas New Year’s Eve 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. Today children celebrate the day by dressing up in costumes and singing in shops for sweets and treats, a little like Hallowe’en celebrations. Although it is a gauchesque dye celebration, it is the moment chosen to pay homage to the national tradition in any of its forms. Surely a treacherous time agical things are said to take place on this evening, including rumours that cows can speak! The first day of the ancient Norse month of Thorri begins with bóndadagur, or 'husband's day'. 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. 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. Reykjavík has to be one of the best places in the world to celebrate New Year's Eve. 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. Some will use this day to indulge in festivities with extended family, attending large buffets at a relative's house or hosting one themselves. 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. 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