Iceland – ¡Vámonos!

Tag: Iceland

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Final saying in our series today –

A forty year old can do anything

Well, at least anything a forty-year-old can do.  Every language seems to have its own version of this phrase. “Life begins at forty” is equally true and equally paradoxical.  we embrave optimism and energy in all people regardless of age.

Hoping to prove this to be true later in the year.

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

The penultimate saying in the series –

A nation knows when three know

So never tell more than one person your secrets; preferably keep them to yourself altogether, to be on the safe side.  News and gossip have always travelled fast among the small population of Iceland.

Especially as two thirds of them live in Reykjavik!

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Seventh saying in our series of nine –

They splash the skyr who own it.

Laden with irony, this phrase actually means quite the opposite.  Synonymous with the English proverb about people who throw stones in glass houses, it acquired something of a cult status a few decades ago when an angry protestor lobbed handfuls of the wholesome if messy dairy product skyr at members of parliament during a ceremonial procession.

Skyr is delicious – I wouldn’t waste it on politicians.

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

At number six, this week’s saying is-

The one who has no brother is naked on the back.

Quoth the hero Grettir, as he lay wounded in battle.  Taking the hint, his brother Illugi immediately covered Grettir’s back with his own shield, defending Grettir for the remainder of the skirmish.

I don’t have a brother – hope my little sis would do the same though!

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

The fifth in the series of Icelandic sayings is –

There are many wonders in a cow’s head.

Strange things call for strange metaphors.  Should you lack words to express your amazement at rotten shark being served as a delicacy, beer being the only alcoholic beverage banned for decades or elves taking up permanent residency in wayside boulders, you can safely mention the cow’s head and be understood.

I think there are many wonders in a cow’s head.


I love cows.

PS this one is for Sinclair and Angus }:8)

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Fourth in our series of Icelandic sayings –

One wave is seldom single.

Observe the sea for a short time and you’ll notice that waves come in series and sets, never alone.  Legendary Icelandic pessimism has applied this law of nature to misfortunes, never tiring of darkly enjoying the pluality of Murphy’s Law.  Yet the opposite must also be true, meaning that good things occur in series as well.

My Dad was a great fan of Murphy’s Law, and the closely related Sod’s Law!

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Third saying is –

Everything is nice that is green.

Origins of this saying are slightly obscure.  Was its inception fuelled by the desire for glorious summer during the darkness and discontent of winter?  The absence of vegetation in the seemingly endless black lava fields and lifeless sandbanks?  Or blissful ignorance of the existence of radiating plutonium?  Who knows.  But since it’s an old proverb, it must be true.

Brussel sprouts?  Snot?  Mmm…..

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

Our second saying is –

Everything is hay in hard times.

For centuries sheep fed, clad and shod the struggling nation.  Survival depended on having a sufficient supply of dried grass to sustain the all-important livestock through long cold winters.  Spoiled or depleted hay reserves meant making do with something – anything – else instead.

I wonder if there’s an equivalent English / British saying?

Postcard courtesy of Landsbankinn

The first saying is –

To soak your head in water.

Water is paramount to growth and apparently soaking one’s head in water for a moment or two facilitates fruitful thinking. Don’t forget to hold your breath though!

I quite like soaking my head underwater – perhaps I should do it more often!

On our holiday in Iceland over Christmas I collected some postcards featuring Icelandic sayings from the airport (advertising Landsbankinn), and thought I’d share them with you over the next couple of months, starting today!

Come back at 6pm to see the first in the series!

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