Easter, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, is a holiday in all Christian countries. Iceland is one of those countries, but as with anything, Icelanders put their own unique spin on Easter traditions.
For many Icelanders, nothing says Easter like shouting “Bingo!” The game is traditionally played during Easter, especially on Good Friday.
The tradition of Easter Bingo in Iceland started as a rebellion against the laws which made gatherings, like dances and any gambling and game playing, illegal on Good Friday. This atheist revolt against the rules of the church is now less revolutionary.
Many libraries and sports clubs host bingo nights in the Easter period. An excellent way to spend time with your family at Easter. An added bonus is that the prizes for the winners are often Easter eggs.
See also: April in Iceland
Yes, yes, yes, we know other countries have Easter eggs too, but they’re doing them wrong. In Iceland, the Easter eggs are not only made of chocolate, but they also have chocolate and other sweets inside!
But wait, that’s not all that these Easter eggs have inside them, there’s also a little note with a málsháttur. What is a málsháttur, you ask? It’s a proverb or a saying in Icelandic.
So, with an Icelandic Easter egg, you get sweets within sweets and also something to read and reflect on while you stuff your face with chocolate until your belly aches.
Easter egg hunts
Most will think of Easter egg hunts as events where lots of people search for small eggs in a designated area. Although these types of Easter egg hunt sometimes happen in Iceland, that’s not the version of an Easter egg hunt most Icelanders would think of.
Icelanders take a more personal approach to the Easter egg hunt, Icelandic parents hide their children’s Easter eggs on Easter morning and the kids have to search the house.
In some homes, kids are given clues or riddles to find out where the eggs are. Some people put a lot of effort into these scavenger hunts, much to the annoyance of chocolate loving children.
Since Good Friday is a day of mourning to Christians, many abstain from eating meat on this day. In Iceland, this has created a tradition of eating fish on Good Friday. There is undoubtedly enough fresh and delicious fish to be had in Iceland.
On Easter Sunday most households in Iceland celebrate by eating a roast leg of lamb. Icelanders are generally very fond of lamb meat, and legs of lamb are the perfect meal to share with your family and friends on a special occasion.
See also: An introduction to food in Iceland
Since Easter happens in spring the decorations are often a nod to fertility; eggs, bunnies, sprouting tree branches and flowers.
The traditional flower to have as decoration at Easter in Iceland are daffodils. Their cheerful yellow colour is perfect for Easter, and they are also among the first flowers to start blooming here.
Because daffodils usually start blooming around Easter time in Iceland, they are named after the holiday. Daffodils are called ‘Páskaliljur’ which directly translates to ‘Easter lilies’. Even though daffodils are not related to the lily flower family.