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Infinite wisdom in Easter eggs and other tales

It’s Easter Sunday, the second-last day of the five-day holiday that is Easter weekend here in Niceland.

Until a few years ago, everything was closed for most of these five days. They’ve relaxed the rules a bit now, allowing for movies on Good Friday, for instance, and restaurants and cafes are open [largely in response to the  tourist trade — imagine those poor tourists who used to come here for Easter and found virtually everything closed] – at least some of them. On the other hand, all bars and clubs must close at midnight on Maundy Thursday and remain firmly closed all of Good Friday. Most of them then re-open at midnight on Friday and stay open until the wee hours of Saturday morning. The same goes for Easter Sunday – close midnight on Saturday, stay closed all day today, re-open at midnight.

Betcha didn’t think we Nicelanders were so pious, did you?

Predictably, a lot of people use the Easter holidays to go away somewhere, seeing as how there are only three working days in the preceding week and four in the next. YT and EPI decided to stick around in town; initially we were thinking of going to Akureyri, up north, to visit my eldest stepdaughter, but in the end she decided to come here. Incidentally, have I mentioned she’s expecting a baby? No? Well, she is! So EPI will soon be known as Grandpa EPI and YT as, well, YT.  And that’s because Grandma – and even Exceedingly Young Step-Grandma – sounds OLD!

And yes, we’re all very excited.

Anyway, today we observed the usual Easter Sunday ritual of hiding and seeking our chocolate Easter eggs. For those who don’t know, Icelandic Easter eggs come in a variety of sizes [conveniently numbered 1-7, like hats, or gloves], have little Easter chicks stuck on the top, are filled with candy and – most importantly – an Icelandic idiom. [Pic of Icelandic Easter eggs here]. The idioms are a key, KEY, ingredient in the Easter egg tradition, and Icelanders go around all day asking and telling each other what their Easter egg idiom was. [Which is why if you have Icelandic friends on Facebook you may have noticed them writing weird things as their status updates today.]

AAH had to work at 11 am so we had to get up kinda early to make brunch — we’d already hidden the Easter eggs last night in a variety of ingenious locations [not really – over the years we’ve totally exhausted all the good hiding places] and as soon as ÁE [eldest step] got here she and AAH set about searching for their eggs while EPI fried the bacon and YT, um, observed the search. Always fun.

As soon as we’d downed brunch EPI and I set about looking for our eggs, and as usual it took me about ten seconds to find mine and EPI about ten hours a long time to find his. And that’s because, according to EPI, he always looks for his egg in the places where he’d probably hide it himself, which as we know are the places that YT would NEVER pick, for the reason cited above.

So, as soon as everyone had their egg, we all very single-mindedly dug in to look for our own idioms. Mine was: Þokka býður þrifin hönd — very cryptic, meaning something like “A clean hand has lovely appeal” [or something]. AAH got: Allir fuglar úr eggi skríða — “All birds crawl from an egg”, ÁE got: Sá gefur mest sem minnst má — “He gives most who has the least”, while EPI got: Uslagjöld eru sjaldan tvöföld — “Compensation is rarely doubled”. So as you can see, we received a vast amount of spiritual enrichment today in the form of Easter egg idioms and, truly, are better people for it.

All that enlightenment is possibly what prompted EPI and I to stop by the Culture House museum today when we went out for our Easter walk [or maybe because it was one of the few places that was open]. This is where the old Icelandic manuscripts are exhibited and, truly, it was an eye-opener for our YT. Generally I’m not a museum person [ok, I find most museums excruciatingly dull] — but this was great! I particularly enjoyed how the whole storytelling tradition in Iceland was highlighted — truly, it is such a major component of this country’s history and those old manuscripts — wow, they are amazing! Such painstaking work that was involved; it’s no wonder that in one part of the exhibition there’s an ancient quote from a scribe, who describes the physical hardship he goes through. I can’t remember all of it, just the very end: “three fingers write, yet the whole body suffers”. Cool. Trés cool.

NB I noticed that a question was posted to the forums a couple of days ago about Easter traditions … I’ve written more about Easter here and here, and also on my own personal take on the Resurrection here.

IT HAS BEEN MOSTLY SUNNY AND COLD
Which is perfect for all the thousands who hit the slopes this Easter. One of these days I’m going to try my hand [or feet] at downhill skiing — I have never skied downhill, the product of being raised largely in a flat landscape, I reckon. EPI went cross-country skiing on two occasions this Easter, while YT resorted to the very mundane activity of going to the gym — albeit replete with a soak in an outdoor Jacuzzi afterward with the sun on my face. Currently 2°C [36F]. The sun came up at 6.06 am and went down at 8.52 pm.

[PS – Thanks to all of you who have ordered Folk Legends — your orders are duly received and will be mailed out next week.]

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  • Jessica April 13, 2009, 2:45 am

    The Culture House is great! The Manuscripts exhibit is a bit overwhelming so it’s good to break it into a few trips if you really plan on reading all of the information…and still fit in the Surtsey exhibit upstairs (which is a must-see for geology/biology geeks). Like you, what I remember most about the exhibit is a funny note-in-the-margins quote from a medieval scribe: “Writing bores me.”
    P.S. Enjoyed a #4 Noi Sirius egg (YUM!), and was blessed with this bit of wisdom: “Few think their anger is unjustified”. Did I accidentally get David Oddsson’s egg?

  • Stephen Cowdery April 13, 2009, 3:20 am

    There have been a few times when I’ve been overwhelmed in museums. Seeing those manuscripts was one of them.

  • alda April 13, 2009, 11:07 am

    Jessica – that Surtsey exhibition is no longer up – there’s one now on Icelandic films, which is really good. We didn’t have time to stay there long, but it would have been easy to spend an entire day there — you can watch all Icelandic films to date.
    Oh, and I seriously think you must have got Doddsson’s egg. Perhaps you could just send him the málsháttur in the mail?

    Stephen – I understand why.

  • Andrew April 13, 2009, 3:04 pm

    I was wondering about Easter in Iceland! This is the sort of thing that makes IWR so interesting!

    As a matter of interest, you may want to read this article:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/5145969/Iceland-banking-inquiry-finds-murky-geysers-run-deep.html

    “When investigators get beyond the secrecy and complexity they may find another Enron”

  • JoeInVegas April 13, 2009, 4:14 pm

    Here Easter is mostly about the chocolate rabbits and egg hunts. (oh yea, there is something religeous in there someplace)

  • alda April 13, 2009, 4:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing the link Andrew — it’s good that the foreign media is taking notice of what we’re up against here.

    The only part of that article I find questionable is the reference to Björn Bjarnason at the end — as though he’s some kind of good guy. He’s as corrupt as the rest of them.

  • Ljósmynd DE April 13, 2009, 8:02 pm

    Those pretty chocolate Easter eggs seem to be a reason to plan a visit to Reykjavik at Easter some time in the future. From Christmas I know those huge ‘konfekt’ boxes with nice fotos on top, which also come in different sizes. I like them too, even though people sometimes seem to be surprised, when tasting some of their content here at home. It’s not very common to find this kind of sweets with a peppermint or strawberry cream filling here in Germany.

    Meanwhile Iceland seems to be working its way from the top of the ranking list of the least corrupt countries in the world issued by Transparency International right down towards the very bottom – I wonder, how they got to the top (in 2005) anyway. What I’ve been reading recently about huge donations of the bankrupt banks/companies to some of the parties leaves me pretty baffled and appalled. I wonder, how this is perceived by the people in Iceland – or is it old stuff rehashed?

  • alda April 13, 2009, 8:26 pm

    LDE – seriously, the best thing about the Easter eggs are the idioms. Otherwise they’re totally overrated. I’d rather have a Lindt Easter bunny any time – preferably the dark chocolate kind. 🙂

    As for your second paragraph — oh no, we’re all appalled here. Except some of us are also pleased — this comes at the WORST possible time for the Independence Party – 12 days before election day!

  • hildigunnur April 13, 2009, 10:55 pm

    wheee, I really like the way the Independence Party seems to be digging their own grave here at the moment. Hopefully they won’t get any pity votes.

    And I actually love the Easter egg chocolate – even though I normally dig the dark versions of Valrhona and Amedei, the taste of the NS chocolate is just the taste of Easter morning. My #5 is almost finished by now. (husband and eldest daughter made their own, though, see here).

    Pious, nope we’re not pious, but we really like our long Easter break 😛 My father normally says we’re blessunarlega heiðin (blessedly heathen)…

  • Ljósmynd DE April 14, 2009, 11:32 am

    One of the effects of the crisis here in Germany seems to be, that people are no longer willing or able to pay for the high-price Easter chocolate. Far more chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies have been produced than could be sold. So, today the shops are giving them away at half price. They do it regularly after Easter but there has never been such a huge selection of really good stuff at a 50% discount. Of course, dark chocolate Lindt Easter bunnies are on offer, too. It’s a feast for the chocolate lover. 🙂