February 29th marks the end of the month of February, and the beginning of the first month of spring or at least hope thereof.
Of course, you can forget that in Iceland. Spring is not to be expected until April at the very earliest, or at all, if you interpret spring as a time of blossoming flowers and warm sunny days in a dress or a T-shirt. No, if we got a spring like that, we’d take advantage of each and every day as if it were the last perfect day of spring.
But it’s still February and it’s not a bad thing. February is, as I’ve said before, an amazing month to visit Iceland.
During the very last weekend of February, I found myself juggling several balls. I had signed up for a weekend-long yoga workshop with an instructor who traveled from Miami to instruct us and help us to improve our poses, transitions and introduce some of us to meditation. It was truly amazing, but intense, as it should be.
I also had the ‘árshátíð’ at my work, an annual party businesses, corporations and schools host for their employees. This event was fabulous, with amazing decor, great food and entertainment, and I encountered surprising faces. It was a great night and I felt happy to be part of the unity in the room, despite the large number of attendees.
It is in the spirit of winter, it seems, to celebrate. Summers are fairly calm in terms of festivities in Iceland, whereas the winter season is full of events for people to attend.
We have þorrablót, an Icelandic mid-winter festival in January, where people dine on horribly smelling food, that is, cured fish and meat. This is my personal opinion, though, so if you fancy giving it a try, go for it. We also have Man’s Day (bóndadagur) in January and Woman’s Day (konudagur) in February.
This is also the time of year for the annual parties, the árshátíð, so there is plenty of fun to be had.
Recently, Valentine’s Day was adopted by Icelanders, although there are many who denounce this day like the devil. To be honest, I think it’s a wonderful way to do something with the person you love on your own terms. It can be a romantic dinner out, a pajamas night with a take-out and a movie, or a reason to do something out of the ordinary.
I think the reason for all the festivities so soon after Christmas is an excuse to have a bit of fun during the darkest of times in winter. There are no holidays to look forward to until March when Easter comes to town, so until then, it’s best to have a good time.
It’s truly amazing if you think about it. If you go to downtown Reykjavík this time of year on the weekend, you’ll see a few people dressed as if it’s summer. Women in open heels and men in suits and shiny shoes in the snow and ice. It’s as if they do not feel the pain on their skin.
I am not sure how they do it. But I guess with the help of liquid intoxication, the cold is not felt as intensely as it otherwise would.
February 29th holds no significance in a cultural sense. It is a unique day in any part of the world because it only comes every four years. For some people, this is an opportunity to have that birthday party on the right day. Really, we should all do something fun on this day.
Whatever this day brings, all I ask for is decent weather, little less ice and puddles of melted snow, and cuddles from my lovely dog Emma. There is no better way to wake up, that’s for sure.
What I do know for sure is that it’s going to be cold and that won’t change for at least another two months.
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]