Friday, December 23, 2016



This is my favorite day of the Christmas season. The day honors the patron saint of Iceland, Þorlákur Þórhallsson, as he died on December 23, 1193. This day is so much fun. The activities start early in the day and continue way into the night. First of all, this is the day when many people finish decorating their houses and Christmas trees, so after a quick morning swim in Bolungarvík, I start my day by putting a colorful string of lights on our fence outside.

Just a pic from yesterday evening
At lunchtime many people eat the traditional fermented skate (a fish similar in looks to the stingray, but smaller). Here in town, for example, you could go to the local search and rescue headquarters at Guðmundarbúð for a feast with the locals. Although I am bound and determined to try it one day, every time I smell the pungent ammonia stench I decide to pass until maybe the next year.  

Instead I take part in the evening activities. At 6pm everyone gathers at the church for the peace march (Friðarganga). Candles are sold – and quickly sold out – which mostly the little ones are interested in. The group walks slowly down the main street to the town square, where a local band is playing Christmas music. After a couple songs, a few of the townsfolk make speeches or read poetry. The war in Syria is the theme that touches everyone this year. The sky above us opens up and instead of bombs, we are covered in soft snowflakes. It continues to snow big fluffy flakes the rest of the night. 

Some of our Christmas lights
(not the ones I put up though)
I’m a bit cold so Helga and I head to Húsíð for some dinner, and after a hot pizza we head out again. This time we go into all the stores, every little one. Stores that I didn’t even realize we had. Stores that I’ve never been into. Most offer free cookies and chocolates and some even have jólaglögg (mulled wine). In one store, two girls sing a few Christmas carols. There are people everywhere, lingering and chatting, and buying those last minute gifts. Actually a lot of shopping is done on this day (talk about procrastination!) but that’s all part of the fun. Stores are open until 11pm here, giving people plenty of time to find everything they need. We only get through about half the stores in town when we find one offering a warm couch and free jólaglögg, so we decide to stay there for a bit. It’s fun to meet some new people there too. 

It’s after 11pm when I finally head home. It’s still snowing, everything is covered in white. Hundslappadrífa. What a wonderful day!