This has been quite the year for depressing world news. There have been disastrous Brexit negotiations, continuing escalations in Russian election meddling, further revelations in the #MeToo movement, and US politics in general.
In Iceland, however, there have been many stories that made us all smile, and below we have listed our five favourites.
1: The Story of a Sculpture
Iceland should be more famous for its public artworks. Street art graces the sides of many buildings; the works of legendary sculptor Einar Jónsson bring class to many corners of the capital; and the Sun Voyager statue inspires a spirit of hope and discovery to all who look upon it.
Also, there was the sculpture of a hot dog put in a historic pond that looked uncannily like a penis.
Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir’s work, Litla Hafspulsan, was ‘erected’ as a statement on democracy. It bore the message that no matter what condiments and toppings you choose, when you order a hot dog you are still just getting a hot dog.
It was a relevant, thought-provoking contribution to the ‘CYCLE Music and Art Festival’, which celebrated a century of sovereignty in Iceland; it just happened to share a resemblance to the male body’s funniest appendage.
Though not her intention for it to be compared to a phallus, Steinunn was still exhibiting the nation’s sense of humour by creating a very Icelandic version of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid. Iceland is famous for its street hot dogs, and the sculpture’s name translates to ‘the Little Mer-Sausage’.
However, like the Little Mermaid, which has been defaced and damaged many times, Litla Hafspulsan was ruined by those with no appreciation for art (or else a deep-seated anger at willies).
Just a few weeks after she ‘got it up’, residents of Reykjavík awoke to find the sausage severed at its base, an act that infuriated art-lovers and had men across the country cringing and involuntarily squeezing their legs together.
2: A Sex Doll Was Abducted
Crime is rarely something to laugh about, and the idea of making jokes about an abduction should be considered nothing but tasteless. That was until September this year when Kitty the Sex Doll was kidnapped from her home in a Reykjavík sex shop.
Of course, the burglary itself was an ugly affair. Two young women smashed through the windows of a store using a car with stolen license plates, causing 1.5 million ISK worth of damages (3,125 USD). The criminals are also thought to have robbed gasoline from a different establishment earlier that night and remain at large.
See Also: Sex Doll Burglary Caught on Camera
To the shop’s owner, Þorvaldur Steinþórsson, we offer nothing but straight-faced condolences. To the general public, we implore you to buy any sexual aids you might desire either from a discreet online retailer or a business such as his. Still, however, we challenge you not to think of poor Kitty being thrown into the back seat of a car in a late-night, high-stakes burglary without at least suppressing a guilty smile.
3: An Icelandic Hotel Hired a Cat
Iceland has a fair few famous felines. Many of Reykjavík’s resident cats have their own Instagrams, and the nation was gripped in fear when some ignorant tourist abducted downtown favourite Baktus and let him escape in the outskirts of the city (fear not, he was found and is back chilling in his usual spot in the centre).
One cat out of the capital, however, got its fame not for its social media presence and cuteness, but the old-fashioned way: through hard work.
Pál Dánielsdóttir, a female tabby, had long been keeping Fosshotel Hellnar on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula free of pests with her talent for catching mice. They say: do what you love and the rewards will come, and in this case, the adage was fulfilled. In October of this year, Pál was given an employee card to commemorate her for the hard work she has put into maintaining the hotel’s hygiene standards.
Now officially the Head of Mousekeeping, Pál has broken the glass ceiling of animal employment. In doing so, she has helped maintain Iceland’s reputation as a progressive, forward thinking nation that judges potential employees not on their background, but on their talent and work ethic.
4: Icelanders Got the Apology Half the Nation Had Been Demanding
Leaders like Donald Trump mock everyone from disabled reporters to those of us who believe in Santa, and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has spouted off the most disgusting things a human could imagine. These days, therefore, it has become almost ludicrous to expect a world leader to apologise for their outrageous statements. This year, however, Iceland’s president broke the mould.
It took well over a year for his disgusting comments to receive the apology they deserved, but at long last, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson retracted his statement that pineapples had no place on a pizza.
From February 2017, the nation had been arguing about his assertions more than they had over the Panama Papers and Kitchenware Revolution. This November, however, the president publicly doused the flames over this controversial debate over toppings. We can now only hope he doesn’t let slip whether he prefers cheese and onion crisps to salt and vinegar, lest the outrage begin once more.
5: Katla Volcano Didn’t Erupt
It may seem odd to finish this list with a dramatic news story that didn’t happen, but it’s one that appeared to be on the horizon for the entire year. Katla is one of Iceland’s most explosive and active volcanoes, and, sitting beneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier, an eruption here would have been absolutely catastrophic.
Katla is much more powerful than its neighbour, Eyjafjallajökull, which caused enough trouble when it went off in 2010. Flights across Europe were grounded, ash poisoned farms across the country, and newsreaders everywhere fumbled over the six-syllable tongue-twister. If Katla would have gone off this year, then the consequences would likely have been many times worse in terms of air travel, agriculture and infrastructure.
All year long, Icelanders were told of rumblings beneath this mighty volcano and constantly reminded that it was well overdue. After all, it hasn’t had a major eruption since 1918, and usually, such events are only two to eight decades apart. Even so, the fear-mongering, as well-reasoned as it was, was all for nothing, and the country enjoyed a year without a devastating natural disaster.
As lucky as we were that the catastrophe didn’t occur, however, it is not a case of if Katla will erupt, but when. All fingers and toes are crossed that at the end of 2019, we can repeat this lack-of-story, despite many experts thinking that this may be very wishful thinking.