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Talking cows and stripping seals

It’s midsummer night – one of my very favourite nights of the year. It’s so totally irresistible – that sense of mystique, mischief and celebration.

Here in Iceland we don’t celebrate as much as the other Nordic countries do, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t myth and folklore in abundance. On this night…

… The cows talk.

… The seals shed their skin and become the people they really are [seals have human eyes, donchaknow].

… You can find magical stones – ‘óskasteina’ – and if you do, you can make a wish and your wish will be granted.

… If you sit at a crossroads that face directly in all four directions [n,s,e,w] all your wishes will come true at midnight. Some also say that if you sit at those crossroads, elves will come and incite you to come away with them. [Elves are big in Icelandic folklore and are not to be confused with gnomes, who are not half as elegant]. If they do, you must not under any circumstances go with them. And even if they offer you all sorts of gold and silver and diamonds and treasures, you must under no circumstances take it because if you do you will go insane.

… If you go out and pick a special ‘draumagras’ – dream grass – and put it under your pillow and sleep with your right cheek on the pillow, you will dream what you wish to know.

… It is recommended that you climb seven fences. [Nobody knows why, though.]

… You should pick seven types of flowers – some will heal you, others will reveal who it is that has stolen from you. [Missing anything? Sleep with flowers under your pillow and find out who took it.]

… If you roll around in the dew naked you will be healed of whatever ails you. If you let it dry on your skin you will be healed of all itching and anything else troubling your flesh. Some claim that you can also make a wish when you’re doing that and it will be granted to you.

ON THE MORE TEMPORAL FRONT, HOWEVER
There’s lots going on this evening. There’s a midsummer night’s run starting at 10pm [and before you ask NO I’m not going to run because I don’t do marathons] after which participants will get free admission to the Laugardalslaug pool. Nearby, the Family Park and Zoo will open at 11pm and stay open until 1am, just in case the cows start talking. Admission is free, even. And on this night [or sometimes on the subsequent weekend] there are all-night midsummer night hikes in various places throughout the country, which I’ve never had the privilege of taking but which I’ve heard are AMAZING. You start off in semi-darkness, walking in the mysterious Icelandic landscape, and get really tired and then suddenly BAM! the sun is full-on in your face and you’re wide awake. Rush!

MEANWHILE THE WEATHER IS…
Mm, let’s just say that YT is going to pass on the rolling-around-in-the-dew-naked thing. The weather’s not exactly bad, it’s just not that good. No sun. Wind. And temps currently a mere 10°C [50°F]. Meanwhile, the sun came up at 02.56 and will go down at 24.04. Day getting shorter now. Sniff.

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