Happy Beer Day!

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, history, Iceland, Tradition

On March 1, we celebrate the National Beer Day in Iceland.

In 1908 Icelanders voted in favor of a ban on all alcoholic beverages and the ban went officially into effect in 1915. As soon as Iceland stopped purchasing Spanish wines, Spain refused to buy Icelandic fish (our main export at the time), so therefore the ban was partially lifted in 1921 with legalization of wine.

Then in 1935 the prohibition of alcohol was lifted  EXCEPT for beer (with alcohol content of more than 2.5 %) and the argument was that beer would lead to debauchery due to it’s low price. So in other words; Icelanders weren’t trusted to handle their booze.

During the time of the prohibition, smuggling and underground brewing was not uncommon and many pubs would serve light beer (Pilsner) with stronger liquor added to it (like vodka). But soon that was also banned by the minister of justice.

74 years and a few rallies later, the beer prohibition finally ended on March 1, 1989 and people were able to buy beer again legally in Iceland. This is the reason why some Icelanders celebrate Beer Day on March 1st. “We had to fight, for our right to party”.

Today beer has become the drink of choice for most Icelanders.
You can find local and imported beer in all pubs and most restaurants in Reykjavík. Beer is also sold in wine stores, however grocery stores only sell the light beer called  pilsner (less than 2.5%). There are several breweries in Iceland and some popular Icelandic beer is Viking, Thule, Einstök, Kaldi, Brío, Boli, Gull.

So if you like beer; March 1st is a great day and an excuse to go out and have an Icelandic brew..or two.

Skál!

The most peaceful country in the world

Posted on Categories Equality, Iceland, Peace, SafetyTags , , , , , ,

We can proudly say that Iceland remains the safest country in the world according to the 2017 Global Peace Index, a position it has held since 2011.  Our children play freely outside and babies are even left outdoors in their prams for nap time and Icelandic people are generally unconcerned about the possibility of other people causing them deliberate physical harm.

But what makes Iceland so safe?

 

No Class system

97% of Icelanders describe themselves as middle class so a class system is barely existent which reduces jealousy and crimes associated with poverty. Children have equal opportunities for education and go to the same schools.

 

An egalitarian nation
Iceland is also nr. 1 in gender equality and was the first country in the world to elect a female president in 1980, Vigdís Fimbogadóttir.

The LGBT community is also respected and the first openly gay prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was democratically elected in 2009.

 

Iceland does not have an army, navy or air force.
Iceland has only waged one war, ‘Þorskastríðið’ or the The Cod War and it was barely a war but political disputes between the governments of Iceland and the UK over fishing grounds. The only weapons Icelanders used in the war were scissors (to cut the fishing nets of the enemy). Iceland won!

 

The Icelandic police does NOT carry guns.
The only officers permitted to carry firearms are on a special force called the Viking Squad, and they are seldom called out. One man has been shot by the police, EVER.

 

Plenty of guns but very little violent crime
In spite of high rate of civilian gun ownership, Iceland still has one of the lowest crime rates in the world with a murder rate of 0-1,5 per year, none that involve a firearm.

…but why is that?
Besides the above factors (and that there are no mosquitoes in Iceland); acquiring a gun and a hunting licence in Iceland is not an easy process.
Steps to gun ownership include a lot of paperwork, prospective gun owners also need to prove they have no criminal record, they need to have a full medical examination and take a three-day course and a written test on gun safety, management, what animals are allowed to be hunted and when and so on. So basically to get a gun in Iceland is a schlep and there are a lot of legal checkpoints to ensure public safety.

 

Enjoy your peaceful day in Iceland!

A week of three bizarre Icelandic holidays

Posted on Categories Events, Food, heritage, Holidays, Tradition, WinterTags , , , , , , ,

This week is a busy one in Iceland with international events and holidays like Valentines Day but today we’re going to focus on three quirky Icelandic holidays filled with indulgence and innocent fun.

 

Bolludagur – Bun Day

Bolludagur or Bun day is the first and yes we have a day named after a delicious chocolate glazed cream puff. Bolludagur always falls on a Monday six weeks prior to Easter and the tradition came to Iceland from Norway and Denmark and marks the start of Lent.

Lent being the time of self denial; what makes more sense than to stuff your face with puff pastry buns filled with jam and whipped cream, topped with chocolate glaze two days prior?

Traditionally local families will bake their own buns but you will find all sorts of buns in bakeries and grocery stores with variety of fillings and toppings.

Another interesting tradition associated with Bolludagur is that children in kindergarten make wooden decorated paddles which they use to spank their parents with in the morning of Bolludagur while yelling ‘Bolla, bolla, bolla’ in order to get a bun in return. A quite lovely tradition for us parents.. say no more. 

 

Sprengidagur

Sprengidagur is the day before Lent and day 2 of overindulgence.  
On Sprengidagur it is custom to eat a Lentil Soup or stew accompanied with salted lamb meat, potatoes and other root vegetables, a dish called ‘Saltkjöt og Baunir’. This meal is very savory and filling and although Icelanders don’t celebrate Lent by fasting anymore, the tradition of overeating Saltkjöt og Baunir on Sprengidagur is still very much alive.

 

Öskudagur – Ash Wednesday

The Icelandic tradition associated with this day is a bit strange. Young women would try and pin small pouches filled with ash onto the boy they fancied without them noticing.

Today however, Ash Wednesday has turned into more of a Halloween where children will dress up in costumes and walk between stores or houses and sing in hopes of receiving candy in return.

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So now you know why you’ll see children run between stores in costumes singing and the rest of the population may seem a bit dazed as most of us will be experiencing a mild case of food coma.

But don’t forget that Wednesday is not only Ashday but it’s also VALENTINES DAY and believe me when I say that we at CenterHotels are getting geared up for the day of loooove. Stay tuned on our Facebook sites.

RAINBOW REYKJAVIK WINTER PRIDE

Posted on Categories Events, Northern Lights, Reykjavik, Tours, WinterTags , , ,

Pink Party, Queer Bingo Extravaganza, Northern Lights Hunt, Masquerade Ball and plenty more fabulous fun is on Rainbow Reykjavík Winter Pride’s agenda this weekend February 8-11.

Going on for the 7th year in Reykjavík, this small pride festival has been a great success as it combines amazing nature, northern lights and nightlife. It is the perfect winter getaway and a great introduction to Iceland.

Guests are welcomed from all over the world so if Iceland is on your bucket list; the Rainbow Reykjavik Program covers it all.  You will be walking along the Continental Divide between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America, seeing geysers, beautiful waterfalls and nature of unparalleled beauty.  You will also relax in the Blue Lagoon and dine in world-class restaurants, sit in cozy cafes and of course party until the wee hours of the morning with LGBT people from all over the world.

CenterHotels works closely with Pink Iceland, the coordinators of Rainbow Reykjavík and this year, like every year, we proudly offer accommodations for visitors of Rainbow Reykjavík Winter Pride Festival.