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Lights in the darkness etc.

First Sunday in advent today.

Here in Iceland, advent marks the start of the Christmas season and in practice means that you can officially begin putting up your decorations. Some people cannot wait for this day, particularly those who hate the winter darkness and live for the day that they can start putting advent lights in their windows…

[You will see a variation of these in at least one window of virtually every Icelandic home during advent…]

Or just coloured string lights, gathered together like this…

… or set out in some other way; bunched inside glass vases, wrapped around objects, stuck on window panes, laid out in window sills, thrown over mirrors… in short, anywhere you can possibly think of putting them. [Good thing there are plenty of natural sources of power in this country, otherwise we’d probably need a separate nuclear power plant just for advent.]

EPI and I and our collective brood of four – all except one, who had to work – got together today to make Christmas cards. We’ve done this a few years in a row and it’s become an indispensable part of Christmas. We have such fun, start around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and completely lose all track of time. There’s such great satisfaction in losing yourself in creativity and just talking about everything and nothing. Here’s what the table looked like in the middle of the afternoon…

However, that colossal mess did yield some excellent results, if I do say so myself.

Later, in the evening, we had our very first traditional Icelandic Christmas dinner: Smoked lamb, potatoes in white sauce, green peas and pickled red cabbage, and the piece de resistance – laufabrauð, a traditional Icelandic paper thin bread that is deep-fried and eaten with butter. So good. When I say ‘traditional’, I mean just that – it’s usually not what people have for Christmas dinner any more, but for most people it is a throwback to days past and a necessary part of the Christmas season, at least once, to eat smoked lamb – hangikjöt – and laufabrauð.

YT headed out for a brisk walk around the golf course before all the action got underway. It was a magnificent day, the sun was blindingly brilliant and temps just above freezing, and the area out there was packed with people enjoying the day. Everybody was in such a fantastic mood – smiling and saying hello. Would you like to see one more picture? Taken directly into the sun? [It looks dark but it isn’t, it’s just because the camera can’t handle the brilliance, so it had to squint…] This is about as high as the sun rises in the sky these days – then it starts to go down again. This was at around 1.30pm.

… Oh, maybe just one more. Taken in the other direction, of Mt. Esja in the distance…

Current temps 0°C and sunrise was at 10.34, sunset at 15.56. Happy advent!



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