So, you’re headed to Iceland soon, and you want to get to know your hosts a little bit better. Do all Icelanders come from Vikings? Why are Icelanders obsessed with hot dogs? What is Icelandic culture like? These are all valid questions, and if you have never been here, it may be hard to imagine answers. I am going to give you a quick insight into what Icelanders are like before your next trip to our Iceland.

statue of a viking, Iceland culture derives from the nordic tribes

Icelandic Culture – Icelanders are…Educated

Icelanders are extremely well-educated. We have valued education very highly, to the point where 1 out of 12 Icelanders will publish, well…something, in their lifetimes. We also hold one of the highest levels of literacy in the world. And, we are proud of that fact. I wouldn’t say that we will rub it in your face. We won’t be snobs or anything, but know that we have a deep passion for knowledge. Also, we are incredibly well-read (and naturally humble).

Icelanders are…descended from Vikings

Yes, it is true: Icelanders come from Viking heritage. That is not to say everyone in Reykjavik will be descended from Leif Erikson, but most of our forerunners were battle-hardened warriors. Viking mentality was an extremely harsh one, so it is fitting that our demeanor matched our environment; Iceland’s climate is one of the harshest in the world.

Don’t worry about us suddenly challenging you to a trial by combat, or a fight over the stolen treasure. We have mellowed out a lot since then. Now we will probably just curiously ask you why you are visiting Iceland, and if you know any Icelandic.

Iceland map showing the most iconic icelandic culture references

Icelanders Are Proud of Icelandic

While we may be leaps and bounds ahead of our Viking ancestors, we still hold their language and traditions near and dear to our hearts. No more clearly is this seen in our language. More and more Icelanders speak English or a second language these days, but we still hold onto our beloved mother tongue. Icelandic is actually very similar to “Old-Norse.” And because we are so proud of our Nordic language, it is highly advisable to learn a few words before you come. It will only benefit you throughout your stay.

Icelandic Culture – Icelanders Love Hotdogs

Much of Icelandic cuisine and culture coincides with the sea. For hundreds of years we depended on the ocean to provide sustenance for us, we used sailing as a means of exploration, and much of what defines us comes from our history as sea travelers. As such, you can see heavy influences in our traditional cuisine, mainly by way of fish. I don’t know what happened in recent decades, but the advent of the hot dog has taken the country by culinary storm. We love hot dogs. I would eat hot dogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I wasn’t worried about my doctor scolding me. So, while in the states and other parts of the world hot dogs may be seen as a delicacy for specific events, we will eat them whenever we feel like it.

Icelanders Are Friendly

Many people think that we have a strange sense of humor here in Iceland, or that we can be very dry, but in all actuality, we are very warm and welcoming people. Icelanders genuinely want to get to know you if we talk to you. We are inherently a curious society, I think from our love of knowledge, and as such Icelanders are friendly and amicable. While our weather may be cold and tumultuous sometimes, don’t expect us to be as well!

The traditional costume is part of the Icelandic culture

Icelanders Know How to Cut Loose

Maybe it was the dark and foreboding winters, perhaps it is our Viking roots, who knows. But, we sure know how to party. Icelanders, and I believe many other Scandinavian countries as well, are known for being able to put a few back. Iceland’s beer scene has been growing in popularity, but buyer beware: our beers are really, really strong. Make sure you check the ABV before drinking. Because it isn’t uncommon for us to be carrying on like normal, and having our foreign friends become too intoxicated from trying to keep up while we drink. You can’t expect to outdrink Vikings, can you?

Icelandic Culture – What Are Icelanders Like

I think it may surprise you to know that deep down Icelanders are just like you. Wherever you are from, or whatever your upbringing, we are more or less all the same. Our experiences and culture help shape us, but when we get down to the nitty gritty, we are all human. We are all curious, we all thirst for knowledge, and we all love hot dogs (most of us anyway). So, if you are headed to Iceland soon and nervous about what it is like to meet us, don’t worry! We are here and excited to meet you. And maybe while you are learning about our Icelandic culture, we can get to know about your culture and country as well. See you soon!

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