Iceland celebrates the First Day of Winter every year (Fyrsti Vetrardagur), marking the beginning of Gor, the first winter month in the Old Norse calendar. Viking culture recognised two seasons – summer and winter – that matched changing daylight hours giving a rhythm to farming. In the Arctic Circle, the cycle of the seasons leads to long summer days and long winter nights.
The First Day of Winter always falls on the first Saturday after the 26th week of summer: this year the date is today, 26 October 2019.
In Reykjavík, the occasion is marked by restaurants on one of the main shopping streets, Skólavörðustígur, offering around 1500 litres of free meat soup (kjötsúpa) to the public. The traditional broth is a soup-cum-stew made with mutton and seasonal winter vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips and swedes. By tradition, the restaurants started the afternoon ritual by first feeding prisoners at a reception jail on the street, but the 19th-century stone building was decommissioned in 2016. City residents then queue in long lines to get their share of the soup.
At Jolabokaflod CIC, the First Day of Winter also marks the launch of our Book Bulletin 2019 campaign at CrowdPatch. This crowdfunding project rewards people with entries in the online catalogue for books of their choice plus classified ads to promote the contributors, their work and their personal projects and enthusiasms. The Book Bulletin is hosted on this website, to give you great ideas for Christmas presents – and for any other special occasion – for your friends and family.
Why not browse the catalogue to find ideas for early seasonal gifts?