Easter, like many other religious holidays in Iceland, is a family holiday where many things close down from Thursday to Monday. Many people use the Easter holiday to travel with the family and the biggest attractions are Aldrei Fór Ég Suður in Ísafjörður and skiing in Akureyri. Another thing many Icelanders affiliate with Easter is the Confirmation spring bonanza (not an official title). The custom is to invite the whole extended family to a big Confirmation party and if you’re unlucky enough to have a very big family, you will receive a lot of invitations to celebrate with your dorky teenage cousins (nephews/nieces/that kid you saw once when he or she was 2) every year.
24 hour party people
If you have 10 Confirmation parties to attend at least all those extra holidays also mean extra days to party and drown your sorrows. The holiest of the Easter days are Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Usually most bars and clubs close down at midnight the night before and they can’t open again until midnight. They do stay open till 3am on the Wednesday (technically Thursday since it’s after midnight) and on Easter Sunday. However, these rules seem to change every year and with more tourists coming to Reykjavík every year there are always more and more restaurants and bars that stay open throughout the whole thing. For most of the tour companies, the Blue Lagoon and such the Easter holiday is business as usual with no real disruptions to departures and opening hours.
The Icelandic Easter Egg (aka Páskaegg)
Icelandic people are world champions in many things, per capita of course, and without having any concrete evidence to back this up I’m pretty sure we’re world champions in Easter egg consumption too. Icelandic Easter eggs are huge (and getting bigger and more ridiculous by the year) and it’s not uncommon that children get more than one. The princess for example, with our incredibly complicated jigsaw puzzle family, has sometimes got up to four eggs. Come to think of it I think she may still have one left from last year.
The Icelandic Easter eggs are filled with candy but the most important thing is a little piece of paper with a profound proverb to guide you in your life. Many people collect the proverbs and for a few days after the Easter it’s not uncommon that the people around you will inquire what proverb you got and share theirs. Some families hide the Easter eggs for the kids but this was never a tradition with my family.
Another food tradition connected with Easter is the Easter Lamb (Páskalambið) but many people cook a leg of lamb or the back of the lamb sometime during the Easter holiday.
Something to do during Easter in Reykjavík 2014
If you are coming to Reykjavík this Easter I will be doing my walking tours like usual at 10 from Hallgrímskirkja church every day. Because I’ll be home alone and I have nothing better to do (except maybe re-watch the Friends series to crush some folks on QuizUp) I will also offer an extra departure at 14:00 on Thursday April 17th, Friday April 18th, Sunday April 20th and Monday April 21st. You would really be saving me from myself by booking this.