Easter in Iceland
There are several important things to know about Icelandic Easters: they are long, they are chocolatey, they are often boozy and they are well-travelled.
Easter in Iceland is long because it is effectively a five-day weekend, from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday, with all schools and offices shut, as well as some shops too. For this reason, large numbers of people escape from their usual surroundings and go somewhere else – often to visit family of friends, on a foreign holiday, or to the famous ski festival and free music festival, both of which happen to take place at the same time in the town of Ísafjörður.
In fact, it is only really people from Ísafjörður who buck the trend; nearly all of them staying home to enjoy the party as their town literally doubles in size for the weekend. The ones who do choose to leave though, often do so in order to make wads of money renting out their homes for the weekend.
It is thanks to being a five day weekend, and one with lots of piste action and live music (also in Reykjavík), that Easter can be quite boozy. The pursuit of drunkenness is not helped, however, by some anachronistic religious laws which literally ban fun on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
This used to mean no dancing, no drinking, no cinema, no gambling, no breathing – okay not that last one – but today it mostly just applies to bars and nightclubs. Most of them close at midnight on Maundy Thursday and open again 24 hours later (which is fine because most people don’t go out partying before midnight anyway). And the same is true for the 24 hours of Easter Sunday. This is the law and is pretty well adhered to – although you may find some places sneakily open and trying to slip under the radar…but you didn’t hear it from us!
Anyway, enough of all that. Let’s talk about chocolate. Iceland’s biggest candy co’s start working on their handmade Easter eggs as soon as the Christmas mayhem is over. Literally.
You see, Icelandic Easter eggs are a little bit special. Each one comes decorated with chicks and flowers, is filled with a rainbow of different sweets, and has a little slip of paper in it with a fortune/proverb on it which people love to discuss the deep hidden meanings of. If you are a foreigner learning Icelandic, there is a high chance you won’t be able to make any sense of them at all – and that’s because native speakers can’t always either. But they’re quite addictive. Not least because Icelandic chocolate (especially Nói Siríus) is so very gosh darn good.
So, as discussed before, Easter is a very long weekend off work for most people; but visitors to Iceland will be relieved to hear that tour companies, hotels, airlines and airport transfers run pretty much as normal and you shouldn’t be short of cinema, restaurant, museum or souvenir shopping opportunities; although you may want to check the restricted opening hours beforehand.
So, yeah. There we go. We hope to welcome you to Iceland at any time; but if it’s Easter, we’re sure you’ll have a particularly excellent time!
One more thing: in Icelandic daffodils are called páskaliljur, which means Easter lilies. This is odd because they are not lilies and they are almost never out in time for Easter in Iceland. #TheMoreYouKnow!