Icelandic Culture 101

The appeal of a less trodden destination can be manifold; unexpected sights, sounds, and smells all seize the attention of the intrepid adventurer and serve to lure them beyond the pale of high rise suites and chain restaurants (Not that we can afford either). 

13, count 'em, 13 Santas in Icelandic culture

Iceland is certainly geared towards those in search of magnificent obscurities -- beyond the obvious magnetism of spellbinding landscapes and adrenaline inducing adventure sports, there is a way of doing things that puts it high in the running worldwide for the "Most Eccentric Culture" sweepstakes. Below are a list of observations made throughout a prolonged stay with a traditional rural Icelandic family.

1. Icelandic babies sleep outside, bundled up amidst the howling wind and sub zero elements. This is attributed to the prevalence of 'household diseases' in times past, though it seems more likely that everyone is just a little tired of the constant yearning for attention that babies exhibit.

Babies sleep outside in Iceland (apparently in several Nordic countries?...who knew)

2. Locals often snort Icelandic Tobacco off of their hands, even while driving along curving mountain roads in icy conditions. Here's video evidence of us trying the stuff.

3. The most popular locally originated sport is called Glima, which looks like ballroom dancing and seems to have been designed by someone who watched Napoleon Dynamite too many times. Video evidence below 


4. Icelanders have a strong connection to the presence of "Huldufolk", the hidden people who live in rock formations. If you try to build something that interferes with their domain, be ready for war.

5. There are 13 Santas in this culture, all of whom are evil and want to berate you in some nasty manner. From "Meathook" to "Skyrgobbler", these guys are bad news. As if 13 agents of un-ho-ho-holy suffering wasn't grievous enough, there is also Gryla, the evil mother of Santa who wants to harm you. Then there is Yulekotten, the Satanic Santa cat who will eat you if you don't get new clothes for the Yule Season. Merry Christmas everyone.

6. Whale, Seal, and Puffin are all traditional foods that are still available for your dining pleasure. Check out the menu at Sushi Samba

7. The president of Iceland is so friendly that you can drop by his house and ask to hang out with him.

8. Most Icelanders learn to ride a horse before they can walk properly. 

A natural inclination towards horses?

9. There is a belief that there is no such thing as luck. If you have done something, you have done it. 

10. A popular Icelandic comedian named Jón Gnarr ran for political office as a joke, promising that he would get a polar bear in the zoo and free towels for all swimming pools in addition to "all kinds of things for weaklings" -- naturally, he won and served as Mayor of Reykjavik from 2010 - 2014.

The resulting worldview that is fostered in this miraculous environment is hardly believable, and even less so understandable. That's exactly the reason why you should visit -- because although you can't make this stuff up, it's really hard not to have a sensational time with it all! 

Dennis WalkerComment