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The Vacation That Welcomes Again the Solar With Pancakes and Espresso

With a lot of the nation Slightly below the Arctic Circle, Iceland doesn’t expertise true polar evening, the place the solar stays beneath the horizon and darkness lingers all through the winter.

Nevertheless, some elements of Iceland do expertise a model of this phenomenon. As a result of nation’s steep mountains, many individuals reside in areas the place the peaks block the solar’s rays. This contains Ísafjörður, a small city within the Westfjords of Iceland. There, from late November to late January, the rays of the solar fail to achieve the city, leaving it in shadow.

On January 25 every year, the solar lastly arrives at Sólgata, or “Solar Avenue,” in Ísafjörður. To have a good time, households and associates collect for solarkaffi, “Solar espresso,” to welcome the return of the solar.

If it’s a cloudy or stormy day, which isn’t unusual for Iceland right now of yr, many will postpone the celebration. However even when the solar’s rays could be felt for just some treasured minutes, out comes the robust espresso and Icelandic pancakes, together with needs of gleðilega sólrisuor “Merry dawn!”

Round Iceland, many individuals have a good time Sólardagur (“Solar Day”) round January 25 with sweets and scorching drinks. However in villages comparable to Ísafjörður, many households select to have their Sólarkaffi on the precise day that the solar hits their house.

A toddler making Icelandic pancakes. Auður Ólafsdóttir

Ásdís Guðmundsdóttir has lived in Ísafjörður for almost all of her life. She will be able to bear in mind celebrating the vacation when she was eight years previous, along with her mom de ella making pancakes when the solar lastly reached city on a transparent day. Now, she celebrates along with her great-grandchildren, making and consuming pancakes the identical method she did as a toddler: with whipped cream and jam.

icelandic pancakes, pönnukökur, are crepe-like pancakes finest served with do-it-yourself rhubarb jam and whipped cream. Some folks prefer to cowl them in sugar after which roll them as much as be eaten like a scorching canine. The golden pancakes, with their resemblance to the solar, are eaten to have a good time making it via the darkest days of the yr. “We prefer to name them Sólarpönnukökur (“Solar pancakes”),” says Edda Björk Jónsdóttir, a specialist in schooling and communication on the Herring Period Museum in Siglufjörður.

In Siglufjörður, a small city surrounded by steep mountains within the north of Iceland, Sólardagur is widely known on January 28, the day that the solar’s rays shine over the mountaintops and fall in town.

Along with celebrations at house, firms on the town put aside time for workers to have solar pancakes collectively. At midday, elementary college kids collect on the church steps to sing songs comparable to “Sól er yfir Fjallabyggð,” an ode celebrating the sunshine reaching the Fjallabyggð area.

Nowadays, most individuals have a tendency to go away their small fishing villages to maneuver to the capital of Reykjavík, typically for employment or schooling. But Sólardagur is such a significant day to folks from locations like Ísafjörður and Siglufjörður that it’s also celebrated in Reykjavík, despite the fact that the town receives direct daylight all through the winter.

Ísfirðingafélagið, based in 1945, is a company primarily based in Reykjavík that connects folks from Ísafjörður who’ve moved to the town. Their huge occasion of the yr is Sólarkaffi. Since 1946, it has been held yearly, aside from when the Covid-19 pandemic prevented massive gatherings of individuals.

What started as a small gathering over espresso and pancakes on a Sunday afternoon is now a Friday evening occasion with a ball and dancing—however solely after the standard espresso and pancakes are served, in fact. “Though we moved to Reykjavík and will see the solar all yr round, we stored this custom to have a good time the day of the solar, in honor of our hometown and those that reside there and haven’t seen the solar for a very long time,” says Rúnar Örn Rafnsson, the present chairman of Ísfirðingafélagið.

“Pancakes and low are a significant a part of the celebration,” says composer and pianist Halldór Smárason, who’s from Ísafjörður however now lives close to Reykjavík. Smárason performs at Sólarkaffi yearly, and would not miss it for the world. “I actually love this occasion because it’s a chance to reunite with previous associates and acquainted faces from my hometown,” he says.

For many individuals, Sólardagur marks a return to simpler instances. “The solar makes everybody happier, the grass will get greener, fishing turns into extra manageable, and the long-awaited gentle creates a real and deep feeling of appreciation in all of us,” says Smárason.

The sun finally peeking over the foothills into Siglufjörður.
The solar lastly peeking over the foothills into Siglufjörður. Edda Björk Jónsdóttir

The celebration is very significant, contemplating that the winter darkness could be detrimental to psychological well being. Thelma Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the top of the psychological well being workforce on the hospital in Ísafjörður, notes that the arrival of the solar in darkish Icelandic cities is a real trigger for celebration. “It means rather a lot to us when it occurs, due to the way it can have an effect on us to be in darkness for thus lengthy,” she says, “which individuals won’t fairly perceive except they reside with it.”

Jónsdóttir from the Herring Period Museum shares that sentiment. “I feel that most individuals affiliate hope with the Sólardagur,” she says. “Some folks have mentioned that it is virtually just like the solar fills you with gentle, hope, and pleasure on the within.”

Greater than merely espresso and pancakes, Sólardagur and Sólarkaffi are an opportunity for households and communities to have a good time the primary signal of winter’s finish, collectively. “It is positively a turning level,” says Jónsdóttir. “We’ve been with out the solar for over two months, and when the solar lastly comes again, it signifies that there might be much less darkness.”

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