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Most travelers to Iceland are coming with some idea of the curiosities involved in the island’s unique cultural heritage and habits. While you have probably heard of the notorious folkloric belief in elves and the 13 Yule lads of Christmas, there are other unique phenomena that you may experience firsthand during your visit.
Icelandic is one of the only languages in which it is common to speak while inhaling. Associated with older ladies gossiping who can’t stop sharing their thrilling gossip to even take time for a breath, this phenomenon is also associated with just being excited to share a lot of information at once. Try it for yourself next time you don´t feel like taking the time to breathe while telling a story and see the added dramatic effect in your listener’s eyes!
It is not uncommon to frequent the swimming pool during any kind of weather whatsoever. In fact, a blizzard is sometimes an even more popular time to head to the local geothermal hot tub and witness the howling elements from the comfort of a hot tub.
After your visit to the swimming pool, head to an ice cream shop, where, especially during inclement weather, you are bound to find people waiting in line for an ice cream. This national treat is most favorited with heaping additions of licorice and caramel sauce.
Parked outside cafés and shops in Reykjavik and in the smaller villages and towns in Iceland, it is not uncommon to see babies sleeping in prams unattended. While in other countries this would be cause for much alarm, in Iceland it’s a traditional practice based on the belief that the cold wind and natural elements are good for the baby’s growing lungs. Of course, mothers and fathers are watching closely from a window somewhere.
New Year’s Eve in Iceland sounds similar to a war scene. Icelanders are well known for their zealous displays of fireworks erupting from all over the city, in public places as well as private backyards. One reason for this is that Iceland has no military—the closest thing to a military is the volunteer-run search and rescue team which is very often occupied with saving tourists year round. Every year, around the holidays, the search and rescue team sells a huge assortment of fireworks which everyone, of course, supports, by buying as much as they can possibly imagine to set off on the new year.