New Year’s party in Iceland Posted by hulda on Dec 30, 2013 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs
Well, that sounds dramatic but in fact I just wanted to take a quick look back at some of the highlights of this year regarding the Icelandic blog of Transparent Language.
No doubt the most popular entry of the whole year was Find your Icelandic name! In it I explained Icelandic naming laws and the recent past, in which every immigrant had to take an Icelandic name as per the law. I also looked up some names for people who were interested in knowing what theirs could have been – I still do this in fact, so just go drop me a note there if you want to learn yours. This year also saw the series of pronunciation guides which will continue next year because we’ve only covered roughly half of the specialties of Icelandic pronunciation. You can go to the latest post Getting understood in Iceland: eight times G and follow the links to all the other ones that are done so far.
Perhaps the most useful posts of the whole year for language learning were Personal pronouns of how polite can be rude, You say hello, I say excuse me I’m a woman and The helpful helping verbs. The first one addresses a cultural feature that is important to know to avoid insulting people by accident (because being polite is not always polite in Iceland), the second lists common greetings and how gender affects them, and the third is a very compact collection of the verbs that a) make speaking Icelandic easier, especially for a learner and b) are extremely common in daily use anyway. Then again all things considered, Swearing in Icelandic should probably also be counted in. 😀
For the Medieval/viking era fans I’d like to recommend Loki’s children, The legend of Lagarfljót and The wisdom of the vikings – Hávamál. These three were my own personal favourites but just click on the tag for even more Medieval -related entries. For Iceland in general, my favourite entries of the year are Reykjavík, one week in pictures: storm, snowstorm, ash fall, A naked tourist on the prime minister’s lawn, The wonderful accident called Blue Lagoon and my three traveling diaries: 1, 2 and 3.
…is loud. Literally loud, there are explosions going on everywhere and have been ever since the holidays began. Icelanders love fireworks and although the Gamlársdagur/kvöld (= New Year’s Eve) is the main occasion the locals see no reason to deny themselves some extra noise. Besides there are fire works shows arranged by f.ex. Björgunarsveitinn (link), the voluntary rescue units, who are one of the biggest fireworks sellers of the year. All the money goes to support the rescue units and let me tell you, Icelanders absolutely adore this group! As a way of advertising their wares Björgunarsveitinn arranges viewings to show in practice what your money can buy, and to see how said money is then used just read any piece of news of rescue operations in Iceland. They can be found weekly on the papers. To name one example the units were out for 8 hours straight on the 24-25. Dec. rescuing tourists and Icelanders who had ignored storm warnings and were stuck in snow… the rescue units deserve the love they get.
The present is also busy, because the celebrations are about to begin and both alcohol and food is in huge demand! The New Year’s Eve dinner is one of the largest meals of the whole year and is followed by equally large amounts of desserts and chocolate. When the dinner’s done Icelanders gather around their televisions and for the only time of the whole day the continuous explosions cease almost entirely, because no one wants to miss the annual Áramótaskaup (= New Year Eve’s Ridicule)(link to the last year) tv-show. It’s a comedic collection of the best and the worst moments of the year in media, and the worse the year the funnier Áramótaskaupið tends to be.
After the television show is over the explosions outside continue straight away. There will also be bonfires all around the country. By midnight the cities are covered in thick could of gunpowder smoke which can even make it difficult to see the fireworks still going on somewhere above the cloud, unless you live on one of Reykjavík’s many hills.
And then everyone goes back home and sleeps well. JUST JOKING! After the fireworks are done Icelanders head to the nearest party and continue the celebrations until the morning.
Now’s the time to begin thinking on your New Year’s resolutions on language learning! The best one I can suggest is “Learn something every week“, and while I’ll continue doing my best here I can also recommend you some other routes for this.
– Eth and Thorn: a blog by a language learner who’s just began her studies in Iceland. This blog is especially helpful if you one day plan to come over to Iceland to learn the language. (link)
– Do you have a Tumblr blog? If so, look up The Berglind Festival (link). This may be one of the funniest Tumblr blogs in existence, plus excellent language learning material!
– Iceland Wants to Be Your Friend (link). Breath-taking photos and some interesting bits of knowledge about the country.
All photos in this entry belong to me.
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