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The Magic of Icelandic Culture

A small off faraway island in the Nordic regions has recently become a popular destination for travel and adventure, and for good reason. The entire island is essentially a national park. With sprawling fields of grass and ice, waterfalls nearly everywhere you look splashing onto soft moss, and ponies alongside the road, it is easy to understand the draw. The entire country only has one city called Reykjavik, and most of the population congregates there, of which is filled with friendly and interesting people. Let’s dive into the culture of the original and special place called Iceland.

Many Icelandic People Believe In Elves

There are between 30-40% of the Iceland population who believe in the existence of elves. Elven Icelandic folklore is a rich part of the culture, with stories about “Huldufolk” which means “hidden people.”
They are supposedly hiding in the lava fields. There is a famous place in Iceland called Reynisfjara. Along the coastline there are tall and oddly shaped rock pillars jutting out of the Atlantic ocean. This is supposedly petrified trolls who were turned to stone when they were exposed to the sunrise.

Iceland Is One Of The Oldest Democracies On Earth

We often learn about ancient democracies stemming from the Greeks and Romans, but did you know about Iceland? Most people don’t, and yet Iceland still has the oldest parliament to this very day. It was in a place called Pingvellir where the Icelandic chiefs met in the year 930 CE to create the first parliament.

These chiefs and their successors from then on meet at Pingvellir every year to create laws and discuss important issues. They did go through a period of change which included an abolition of the practice in 1800, but it was reinstated in 1845 and continues to this day!

Their Language Is Accommodating and Has a Cool History

The Icelandic language is a real tongue twister for those who are not used to speaking it. But fear not! Icelandic people also learn English alongside it to make it easier for travelers to communicate with and get by. If language reveals something about a culture, this is very telling of the Icelandic way.

Their language looks a lot like Old Norse, the language of the Viking’s. In fact, Iceland’s language is so similar to Old Norse that Icelandic people are able to read the ancient texts written in Old Norse. And a last cool fact about this extraordinary language is how they interpret their weather. They have over 100 words to talk about wind!

Icelanders Love Books

For years, Iceland was publishing more books per capita than anywhere else in the world. This shows a great cultural interest in storytelling and the act of reading. They even consider Christmas Eve a gift-giving holiday, of which they call Jolabokflod. Their love of language and storytelling really comes through in where they place their values in gifts. Halldor Laxness is Iceland’s Nobel Prize winner for, you guessed it, literature.


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