Proverbs are little nuggets of wisdom passed down through generations. In Iceland, they are passed down in quite an unusual way. Tomorrow is Easter and Icelanders put proverbs inside Easter eggs, for example, the one we’re talking about today: “Blindur er bóklaus maður.”

See also: Icelandic literature for beginners

“Blindur er bóklaus maður” directly translates to “Blind is a bookless man”.

Books are immensely important to Icelanders; for centuries we passed our Sagas down through an oral tradition until we were finally able to write them down in books. Which freed up time to write more books.

Icelanders write and publish a surprisingly large amount of books, especially seeing as there are only a little over three-hundred-thousand people who speak the language.


Easter chicks. Photo. Maxpixel.

A lot of the books come out right before the winter holidays, this is known as the Christmas-Book-Flood. Giving books as Christmas presents is very common in Iceland. Some might also give them as summer gifts on the First Day of Summer, which usually occurs at a similar time as Easter.

The proverb about the bookless man refers to the fact that if you don’t read you are blind to the world around you. Icelanders firmly believe in expanding your mind through reading.

Stories are an essential tool to develop compassion. We hope you read something more than just the proverb from your Easter egg this Easter.