Icelandic Confirmation


Icelandic Confirmation

Watch this audio slideshow of a Lutheran confirmation, a longstanding tradition in Iceland. Most commonly between Easter and Whitsun 14-year-olds confirm their faith in God and then invite their friends and family to a party. It is a coming-of-age ceremony and calls for a celebration.

Photos by Hulda Sveinsdóttir and Morten Feldskov Jannerup, narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

Akureyri, March 2008.

The annual appearance of the giant snowman on the town square in Akureyri is a sign for locals that Easter is near. At home, an invitation or two for confirmation parties is waiting in their mailbox.

Lutheran confirmations are a longstanding tradition in Iceland. Between Easter and Whitsun 14-year-olds confirm their faith in God and afterwards invite their friends and family to a party. It is a coming-of-age ceremony and calls for a celebration.

Among young Akureyri residents confirmed this Easter was Icelandic-Danish Sif Feldskov Jannerup. Preparations for her party included attending a course on how to bake a kransakaka, a marzipan ring cake, an integral part of the traditional confirmation. Sif also helped her aunt make a lobster dish for the party.

While food is certainly important for any confirmation party, other preparations are of more importance. To prepare for the confirmation ceremony, Sif was required to attend several weeks of classes at her church to learn about the Christian faith and the meaning of the step she was about to take.

On the morning of Palm Sunday, March 16, Sif arose early with her mother.

After putting on her new dress and finding her Bible, Sif is taken to the hair salon. Traditionally, confirmation girls have long hair so that they can have a fancy hairdo at their party, waves and locks in a twirl, decorated with white pearls or flowers.

Then it is time to pick up the confirmation cake at the bakery. Often parents order a cream-filled sponge cake for their children, with a layer of marzipan on top where the date and the name of the confirmee is written in chocolate.

Now that everything is ready for the party, the family drives off to the Akureyri Church where the actual ceremony takes place. Many teenagers are confirmed at the same time and the church is packed with their relatives.

Confirmees are dressed for the occasion in white robes. They walk up the aisle and then one by one kneel by the altar. They have each memorized a chapter from the Bible which they feel has special relevance to their lives. The teenagers then accept their first Holy Communion and confirm their faith in God, promising to lead a life based on Christian values.

After the serious part of confirmation is over, it is time to celebrate. Some confirmees choose to have their parties at home, while others have special venues rented for the occasion. Family and friends arrive dressed in suits and dresses, congratulate the proud parents and bring presents to the confirmation child.

Then the guests feast upon all the delicacies that have been prepared and ordered for the occasion, like the marzipan ring-cake Sif made herself and the specially-ordered confirmation cake from the bakery. Since it is her day, Sif cuts the first slice for herself.

Congratulations on your confirmation, Sif, and welcome to adulthood.

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