- Some Icelanders claim to believe in huldufólk, or concealed people, and some even claim to have seen them. They are similar to elves, although they are generally seen as distinct entities. There is even a museum dedicated to the hidden people in Reykjavik. This is an old Icelandic belief that is respected by the majority of Icelanders. As a result, skepticism may seem impolite.
- After entering a private residence, it is traditional to remove one’s shoes. If your hosts don’t mind, they’ll let you know.
- In Iceland, punctuality is not valued as highly as it is in many other northern European nations. For parties or other social events, people may arrive up to 15 minutes later than the advertised time, and even considerably later.
- Icelanders may use the term fuck more often than Anglophones might anticipate while speaking English. This is because abrupt views are frequent and should not be misunderstood; furthermore, the Icelandic counterpart of this term is not as powerful as the English version.
- If you feel compelled to talk about the global economic crisis, bear in mind that it is a sensitive topic: Iceland has suffered more than many other countries as a result of the financial crisis, and ordinary people have lost a significant amount of buying power.
- As a first inquiry, it is not unusual for an Icelander to inquire about a foreigner’s impression of Iceland. “How do you enjoy Iceland?” is a common inquiry. This is partly owing to Iceland’s tiny size, but it’s also somewhat of an inside joke among Icelanders. Because many Icelanders are prone to be upset by unfavorable opinions of their nation and therefore get defensive, it is frequently better to remain optimistic.
- Iceland is one of just a few nations with an active whaling business, therefore if you have an anti-whaling stance, expect some Icelanders to hold strong pro-whaling views. Be prepared to debate the point, and don’t expect to win.
Ms. Pétursdóttir or Ms. Guðrún?
Another Norse tradition is the use of patronyms rather than surnames in Iceland. In the genitive case, an Icelander’s given name is followed by the first name of one of his or her parents (typically the father’s) and the suffix -son or -dóttir, e.g. Gurn Pétursdóttir (Gurn, Pétur’s daughter). As a result, members of the same family may have a variety of “surnames,” which can be confusing for visitors. Icelanders use first names in most circumstances due to patronymic last names; for example, phone books are alphabetized by first name rather than last name. This is also true while speaking to a single person. No matter how important, Icelanders would never expect to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. Jónsson/-dóttir.