Advent begins this Sunday, but Christmas in Iceland isn’t the only reason to smile this week. As a nation of only 330,000 people, local news can often have a certain small-town feel, so we’ve compiled the most curious headlines for your Friday reading pleasure. So get ready for that weekend feeling and enjoy the latest curious news from the land of ice and fire.
Squidward at Sæheimar Aquarium
A quaint aquarium on the quiet Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), found just off of Iceland’s South Coast, has welcomed a new member; a squid affectionately called Squidward, after the popular Spongebob Squarepants character.
Squidward was accidentally caught by the Icelandic trawler Þórunn Sveinsdóttir, whose staff took pity on the crustacean critter and sought to find it a new home. The sæheimar aquarium has one of the biggest bird rescue centres in Iceland and boasts four long-term puffin residents, as well as other seabirds recovering from various injuries before being returned to the wild.
Would you like to see Squidward yourself? Why not visit the Westman islands on one of these tours.
The new tentacled tenant will enjoy a private tank amongst other various fish and sea creature species. It is unclear if Squidward is as ill-tempered as his Spongebob namesake, but it has been reported that he was particularly pleased to have found a new home. If you find yourself on the picturesque islands, you can pay the real-life Squidward a visit, as well as the aquarium’s other occupants between 14:00 and 15:30 daily.
Cat Burglar – Christmas Cat Missing Claws
It has come to light that someone has been pinching the claws from the Christmas Cat installation in Lækjartorg square, Downtown Reykjavík. The 5-metre high, 6-metre long festive feline sculpture is missing at least three of its claws, and there are currently no clues as to who the culprit is.
Of all the Yuletide characters to upset, the Christmas Cat is not the most sensible choice; the infamous pet of terrifying troll Grýla is said to eat naughty children, as well as anyone unlucky enough not to receive a piece of clothing for Christmas.
This is not the first controversy to surround the bedazzling beast. The cost of the piece—paid for by the City of Reykjavík—prompted some amount of outcry amongst city residents, arguing that the money could have been directed to more worthwhile causes.
Regardless of the controversy, the sculpture is an impressive sight and contributes to the already cosy Christmas feeling in Reykjavík’s city centre. It still packs a punch even though it may not be able to scratch as effectively as it once could.
A Royal Visit
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iceland’s sovereignty, Danish Queen Margrethe II will pay a visit to Iceland, once part of the Kingdom of Denmark. December 1st is Iceland’s Sovereignty Day; it was on this day in 1918 that Iceland was first recognised as a sovereign state, although full independence was not established until 1944.
Queen Margrethe has a personal connection to the country as one of her names, Þórhildur, is Icelandic. The Queen was born here in 1940 when the King of Denmark was still Iceland’s Head of State.
She will be received by the President and First Lady for a visit to Harpa Concert Hall, as well as an exhibit by Hörður Lárusson on the history of the Icelandic Flag. This will be followed by a stately dinner at Bessastaðir, Iceland’s Presidential residence.
So, practice your curtsey and keep your eyes peeled for royalty this weekend!
Learn more about the Icelandic past on this Funky History Walking tour.
Hallgrímskirkja Church Illuminated for a Good Cause
Amnesty International is honouring the work of powerful women worldwide by projecting illuminations on the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, located in Downtown Reykjavík.
Light Up the Dark is an interactive light installation to raise awareness for continuing human rights violations in a variety of countries, all the while honouring the brave female figures risking their lives to fight against injustice.
The show will begin at 17:00 on Friday 30th November and anyone in attendance will have the opportunity to sign a petition, thus contributing to the heroic efforts dedicated to holding culpable governments responsible.
It’s not often that you can watch a stunning and moving lights show on a city’s most iconic landmark, so be sure to catch the lights this weekend. The installation will be held every evening until Sunday.
Chocolate & Dental Care
As mentioned, Advent begins this Sunday, so why not get into the Icelandic festive spirit and treat yourself to a chocolate advent calendar? A rather cute detail in Iceland is that chocolate calendars here come with a free miniature toothpaste, reminding children to brush their teeth in this inevitably sweetie-filled season.
Maybe you need a travel sized toothpaste? If so, why not buy one with a delicious chocolate calendar attached? Both your teeth and your taste buds, will thank you for it!
Iceland goes a bit crazy for Christmas! Learn more about the holiday season here.