Easter in Iceland is a big deal. Not only is it a five-day weekend, it’s also celebrated with big Easter eggs made of chocolate and filled with wise words (and Icelandic candy). In order to celebrate Easter Icelandic-style, here are some Easter essentials to make your experience as authentic as possible.
Easter celebrations are usually much more casual than Christmas, for example. Since Easter is a five-day weekend in Iceland, many people use the opportunity to travel, in Iceland or internationally. Ski trips are popular and Aldrei fór ég suður, a free music festival in Ísafjörður, attracts a huge crowd every year. Because these days are official holidays some businesses might be closed, especially on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
There’s one motif that’s especially popular in Easter decorations. It’s not the Easter bunny, which is not a part of the Icelandic folklore, but rather the Easter chick. Easter chick ornaments can be bought everywhere where decorations are sold and every home with children usually has a few homemade, misshapen lumps that are supposed to represent the baby chickens. The Easter chick that is most people’s favourite, however, is the Easter chick that tops the chocolate Easter eggs in every store.
Easter eggs don’t have a particularly long history in Iceland. They only arrived in the country in the beginning of the 20th century but have since become so popular that more than a hundred tonnes of chocolate in Easter egg form is sold each year. The Easter eggs come in all sizes and are available in different kinds of chocolate, but there’s one part of the Easter egg’s anatomy that never changes. Each egg contains a small note with a wise Icelandic proverb or a saying on it. Despite the lure of the candy, that’s probably the first thing most people look for when they crack their eggs open.
Many people decorate their houses for Easter in shades of yellow and green. The decorations are connected with the coming of spring and a popular way to decorate is to cut a bouquet of branches from a bush or a tree, and put in a vase with water. The branches will start spouting leaves in the warmth inside, even though the trees outside will remain dark and bare for a few weeks yet.
The traditional Easter Sunday dinner is lamb. That’s a lucky coincidence since Icelanders love lamb. Considering the quality of the Icelandic lamb, that’s really no wonder. There’s no specific lamb dish that’s designated Easter food, but a roast leg of lamb is popular. The delicious Icelandic lamb is a welcome, savoury relief after a day spent gorging on chocolate and candy.