Iceland’s Beer Day

Posted on Categories Beer, Culture, Holidays, IcelandTags , , , , ,

Surprisingly, the Icelandic government prohibited beer during most part of the 20th Century. Once the authorities made the precious beverage legal again, it became the most popular beverage amongst locals. Every year, on March 1st, Icelanders celebrate Beer Day in honor of the abolition of the beer prohibition, which lasted 74 years (January 1st, 1915 to March 1st, 1989).

 

Beer always had an important place in the hearts of Icelanders. No wonders, since many locals had their own brewing equipment at home during the 19th Century! Nowadays, the Icelandic beer brewing industry is prospering rapidly. Several new breweries focusing on craftsmanship beers started their operations offering the widest selection of local beers Iceland ever had! The deliciousness of the Icelandic beers is not only due to the use of their pure and high-quality water but also to their ingenuity and rigor.

 

When the British invaded Iceland during the Second World War, many soldiers thought that their life was missing an important element… Beer! Hence, the government allowed Ölgerðin Brewery to produce beer for the British Navy, only for that period. You can still find this beer today under its original name; the Polar Beer. For the time being, it was still illegal for Icelanders to consume beer and it remained that way until the near end of the 20th Century!

 

Surprisingly enough, after the withdrawal of the prohibition, only a few breweries were producing a limited variety of beers. The main productions were pale lagers and lagers. The two major breweries were Ölgerðin Brewery and Vífilfell. Amongst many beers produced, you should try the following ones:

 

Ölgerðin classics

  • Egils Gull
  • Egils Premium
  • Egils Sterkur.

 

Vífilfell classics

  • Viking Classic (Vienna style beer with a slight taste of caramel and roasted malt)
  • Viking Sumaröl (Belgian style summer beer spiced with coriander and orange peel)
  • Viking Páskabjór (Most popular Dunkel beer in Iceland with rusty tones and flavors of coffee, chocolate, and caramel)
  • Thule.

 

In recent years, the beer market has flourished to give the drinkers an extended possibility of choices. Rather you are a beer lover or not, here are some beers you should definitely try before leaving. Some microbreweries, such as Ægisgarður are even offering tours allowing visitors to understand the process of beer making and taste many different products!

 

Later on, many smaller and creative breweries produce beer inspired from all around the world. Amongst many, the beer Bríó won several prizes for its distinct taste. The German hops and Pilsen Malt added to the recipe gives to the beer the interesting flavor. Once you try its sweet perfume, it is hard to let it go.

 

Lastly, you shouldn’t leave Iceland without trying the fruit of the first microbrewery that opened in 2006; Arskógssandur. Their brewing techniques are inspired by the Czech traditional ways. Kaldi, their pilsner beer offers dry and fresh taste with flavors of roasted barley and hops. The fermentation with burnt malt gives to the Kaldi Dark beer an additional dark color and intense flavors! You should visit the Kaldi Bar in the center of Reykjavik. Easier for you to taste more than one of their treasures!  

 

list of other beers worth your time and money:

  • Lava (Black Ale): Like wine, it ages very well and reaches its optimal taste quality after 3 years in cold storage! This beer won many championships, mainly the “United States Open Beer Championship”. Because of this, North American consumers can now enjoy this Icelandic delicacy from home!
  • Einstök Beers: White Ale, Pale Ale, Toasted Porter, DoppelBock etc. The Einstöck brewery offers a great selection of beers for all tastes. It is most likely to find them in the UK and the USA. A question of keeping the travel lasting a little bit longer!
  • Borg Brugghús Beers: Úlfur (Indian-styled Pale Ale), NR 8.2 Surtur (Imperial stout with vanilla and oaky aromas),  NR 8.4 Surtur  (Imperial stout with licorice, dark chocolate and coffee aromas) and Leifur Nr. 32 (Belgian White with arctic thyme and heaters flavors).

 

Skál (Cheers)!!

Konudagur / Woman’s Day.

Posted on Categories Culture, history, Holidays, Iceland, TraditionTags , , , , , , , , ,

Icelanders sure know how to keep their traditions alive! Many festivities throughout the year come from ancient celebrations from the pre-Christian Norse calendar. Þorri and Góa, for example, celebrate the beginning of the fourth and fifth month of winter.

Both of these celebrations are also known as Husband’s Day (Bóndadagur), and Woman’s Day (Konudagur). Bóndadagur marks the beginning of the Icelandic month of Þorri. Whereas, Konudagur marks the start of the month of Góa. Konudagur is the first day of Góa. It always falls on a Sunday on the second-to-last winter month, marking the time when the days start being visibly longer.  Centuries ago the tradition was that the housewives would  wake up and go lightly dressed out in the snow, to welcome Góa by saying:

 

“Góa is coming, kind and true;

she´ll be warm enough.

Þorri, you´ll be missed by few;

you´ve been plenty rough.”

 

The expression “Ladies’ Day” goes back to 1900. It made it to the official calendar in 1927 and has been on it since then.

On both Þorri and Góa, it is tradition to pamper your loved one with sweet attentions throughout the day.      

So for that reason and the fact that it’s in February, Woman’s Day (Konudagur) has been considered the Icelandic equivalent to Valentine’s Day. Although the day of love gained international popularity over the last years, Icelanders prefer to follow their traditions and reserve a special day for both parties.

Here are some reasons to adopt this new love tradition after your visit to Iceland!

 

  • Always lands on a weekend!

It is known, Valentine’s Day is always on the 14th of February, which may cause you to celebrate in the middle of the week or having a belated lovely dinner during the weekend… Well, Konudagur is always on a Sunday and Bóndadagur is always on a Friday! Needless to say more.

 

  • Specially confectioned cake

Every year, Icelandic bakers hold a competition for “The Cake of the Year”. The most beautiful and delicious cake is sold especially for Konudagur! Here you go ladies, the best cake is showcased in the windows just for you. You deserve it!  

 

  • Two instead of one!

Bóndadagur and Konudagur both focus on pampering the individual instead of the couple itself. This means that you get the whole day to treat your other half without compromising; food, activities, surprises, everything at your loved one’s preferences! And you know you’ll get yours too.. Not bad eh?

Anyhow, remember that we should be celebrating love every day, not only because of a special date and should always treat our loved one like a prince and a princess! Have a good day!

20 Intriguing Fun Facts About Iceland

Posted on Categories IcelandTags , , , , , , , , , ,
Credits: UEFA Nations League

Iceland is not only the country of wonderful breathtaking landscapes. It’s inhabitants share a rich and fascinating culture. Here are 20 fun facts that will make you want to visit Icelanders and their intriguing island. Enjoy!

 

Food

NEVER SAY NO TO ICE CREAM

Cold temperature does not discourage Icelanders from standing in line at the Ice cream shop regardless of the season. You will find an Ice cream shop in almost every neighborhood in the capital area. Try Ísbuðin Valdís, Joylato or Brynja, our favorite ones!

 

NO MCDONALD’S OR STARBUCKS

Fast food restaurants do exist in Iceland but you will not find a McDonald’s or Starbucks anywhere unlike in most other cities. Although, the consumption of Coca Cola per capita is higher than in any other country!

 

BEER WAS ILLEGAL FOR 74 YEARS

Yep, there was a ban put on alcoholic drinks in Iceland in 1915. In 1935 the ban was partially lifted where stronger spirits were legalized but beer was not included until March 1, 1989. Still, to this day, the 1st of March is the Beer Day and it is very well celebrated by the locals.

 

TRADITIONAL FOOD IN ICELAND CAN BE QUITE SURPRISING…

These include hákarl (fermented shark), súrir hrútspungar (boiled and cured ram’s testicles) and lundabaggi (sheep’s loins also cured in lactic acid). These delicacies are mostly found during the annual festival of Þorrablot, celebrating the 4th month of winter according to the ancient Norse traditions and calendar. Oh, in Iceland, when someone thanks for the food, the answer will be “Verði þér að goðu!” Which can be translated into “Hope the food will do you well”! We will see about that…

 

Country

YOUNGEST LAND, OLDEST DEMOCRACY

Iceland has the world’s oldest extant parliamentary institution, Alþingi Parliament formed in 930. Which is remarkably interesting since Iceland is the last land in history to be populated. It is also, geologically, the youngest country to be formed.

 

ONE OF THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

Roughly 90% of Icelandic homes enjoy heating and electricity from renewable energy and natural geothermal resources. This is one of the main factors that make Iceland rank one of the greenest environments in Europe.

 

ICELAND IS THE MOST PEACEFUL COUNTRY

First of all, the country does not have an army, navy or air force. Iceland has only waged one war, and it can barely be called war. Its name is “Þorskastríðið”, The Cod War, political disputes between the governments of Iceland and the UK over fishing grounds. The only weapons Icelanders used were scissors, to cut the enemies fishing nets…and WE WON! Also, the crime rate is very low in Iceland, hence, the police do 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.

 

IMPORTANT MAIN ROAD!

The “Ring Road”, road number 1, is the only national highway and goes all around the country. When it closes for bad weather conditions, there is no way around. One needs to wait for the main (and only) road to re-open!

 

Language

NAMING COMMITTEES

The government of Iceland has a naming committee for newborns. The Naming Committee approves the first names of all newborns in order to preserve the traditions and culture. The Icelandic Naming committee maintains an official register of approved Icelandic given name. Fun fact; the country also has a non-official government body, which two members are appointed by a government agency, regulating the name of horses, The Horse Naming Commission.

 

NO SURNAMES OR FAMILY NAMES

The Icelandic phone book lists people by their first name and the reason is that Icelanders do not use family names. Instead, they use the traditional Nordic naming system where the last name is taken from their father’s (or mother’s) first name with the addition of -dóttir (-daughter) or -son.  Jón Ólafsson’s offspring, for example, might be Einar Jónsson and Sigríður Jónsdóttir.

 

ICELANDERS SPEAK ON THE INHALE

This may be a surprise to some Icelanders (only because it is so natural) but we often speak on the inhale, mostly when saying Já (yes). The reason is a mystery but if you pay attention; you’ll notice and hopefully get a giggle.

 

A VERY PROUD NATION

The official written and spoken language in Iceland is Icelandic. It comes from the Old Norse and changed so little through time that students still read manuscripts written hundreds of years ago. On the 16th of November is “Dagur Íslenskrar Tungu”, The day of the Icelandic tongue (language).

 

Nature

NO MOSQUITOES

Yep, you can relax and enjoy a summer evening in Iceland without worrying about getting bit by these annoying insects. The weather stays too cold and windy during the summer to welcome them! There are also no reptiles or amphibians naturally in Iceland, hence there is none and is prohibited to own a pet lizard, turtle or snake.

 

THERE IS NO NIGHT DURING ALMOST 3 MONTHS

Because of its geographical position, Iceland gets extremely short days during the winter (only 4 hours) and no night between the end of May until the end of July. During the summer, the annual Arctic Open Golf Tournament in Akureyri, offers golfers to compete under the midnight sun, attracting players and watchers from all around the world.

 

Culture

GEOTHERMAL POOLS

Icelandic people use outdoor swimming pools in the winter just as much as in the summer as they are all heated with geothermal power all year round. Going to the swimming pool for an Icelander is like going to church for some. It’s a place where locals come together, chill in the Jacuzzi and catch up with other locals. And of course, it’s a blast for the kids with all the water slides.  Pools are very important in the Icelandic culture, and this, no matter the time of the year, the weather or the time.

 

ICELANDIC BABIES NAP OUTSIDE

Also no matter the season, it is very normal to see strollers and prams outside a coffee shop or a home as parents often let their babies nap outdoors (bundled up of course).

 

ICELAND IS A READING NATION

There is a word in Icelandic Jólabókaflóð, which means the Christmas book flood. Many books are being published before Christmas, as books are a very popular Christmas gift in Iceland! Surprisingly, they also watch more movies in the movie theatre than any other nation worldwide

 

AN EGALITARIAN NATION

Iceland became the first country in the world to democratically elect a female president in 1980 Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and then an openly gay prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir in 2009.

 

THE SMALLEST NATION EVER TO QUALIFY FOR WORLD CUP FINALS

A mere year after making into the quarterfinals at the 2016 Euro cup with an epic win against England, the Icelandic football team beat the odds again by qualifying for the world cup finals in 2018.

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Iceland has a total of 13 Santa Clauses called the Yule Lads, and they are all brothers and vicious Sons of the dreadful ogress Grýla and her husband Leppalúði. They also have a Christmas Cat, who eats children if they are not wearing a new piece of clothes on Christmas Day. Brutal I know!