Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Looking back on Whit-Sunday

Akureyri Main Street

Last Saturday I drove my parents (both aged 82) to the airport. They were flying to the north cost of Iceland to Akureyri to visit my two younger sisters that live there, one of them in Akureyri and the other on a farm in Eyjafjörður in the vincinity of the town. ( I have four sisters, two are older than me and living in Reykjavík like me).

A Flock of Confirmation Kids with their Shepherd

My parents went there for the Church Confirmation of the youngest of their 17 grandchildren on Whit-Sunday. In Iceland the Confirmation-time in towns is around Easter, while in the countryside it´s Whit-Sunday, don´t ask me why.

With the Icelanders the confirmation is a big event in the life of youngsters, taking place the year they turn 14. The parents give big parties and the kids get expensive gifts, top-fashion clothing and stylish hairdoes. Even though the seize of the goings on of course depends on the financial status of the individual families they put a great deal of pride into making the event as glamourous as possible. The media is also full of advice on arrangements, e.t.c.

All of this even though the Icelanders can´t be called a very religious nation, with a very low percentage going regularly to church. About 95% or more of the nation belongs from birth to the Lutheran-Evangelic Protestant State Church (I´m not sure of the most recent numbers, with the number of immigrants we have, it used to be 98%) Most people go to church only at Christmas and Easter if they go at all, also for weddings, funerals and christenings; and of course, for confirmations in the family! Even so most people here claim themselves to be religious, that they believe in God in their own way, which I think is true.

But somtimes you can´t help feeling that the real meaning of the the confirmation gets overshadowed by all those goings-on,with the kids thinking more about all the gifts and parties ( like Christmas?). I think the closes thing to resemble the commotion around this event with us is the Jewish "Bar Mitzvah", as you see it in films at least (we don´t have many Jews in Iceland).

But, anyway, I haven´t spoken with my parents since they went; just hope all went well and that everybody was happy; and that my niece was happy with the present I sent her.

A Confirmation Girl at her Party

This weekend is for many people one of the big weekends in the year for travelling inside the country. But Óskar and me just stayed at home, beacause he was working in the hotel and I went there to help in the mornings; now it´s getting very busy on weekends with the touristseason coming into full bloom.

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