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Bolurdagur makes me miss Aachen

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Karneval in Aachen is probably my favourite holiday. My friends here do not understand why, probably because their only experience with this holiday is me insisting to celebrate my birthday by forcing everyone to wear silly costumes. I love that Karneval is one of the few holidays with distinct local flavours (Brazilian Carnival, Mardi Gras, Venice Carnival, Fasching etc) a mix of folk and Catholic traditions. However, I find the Iceland version of Karneval pale in comparison to the one I know from Aachen a sad leftover from when Iceland was Catholic (until 1550).

Aachen - Fettdonnerstag (Weiberfastnacht, Fat Thursday)
In Aachen Karneval begins on Thursday at 11:11am. Traditionally this day was the day for women to take charge and throw all the "proper ways" for women to behave out of the window for one day. The only leftover from this origin is that women cut off the end of the neck ties of men (yes, not so subtle). These days it is the beginning of the street Karneval, everyone leaves work at 11:11am and goes out on the street to dance, watch perfomances and celebrate. I costume of course (yes we turn up to work in costumes and no this is not an actual official holiday, but custom to the point that banks for example close at 11:11am).

Iceland - nothing
and I always feel sad at 11:12am that day.

Aachen - the whole weekend after
Parties everywhere, crazy people in costumes everywhere and this:

I know it needs some more explanation. So the area around Aachen was taken over by Prussia after the Napoleon wars. Prussia was a very bureaucratic and militaristic state. The uniforms, voting for a "king of karneval", mock ceremonies political speeches (held standing in a bathtub and using rymes) were all pocking fun at the people in power. Unfortunately some of the biggest Karneval organisation now invite politicians and leaders of Germanys biggest businesses to give them a platform in their celebrations. This is what one sees in TV and it is dreadfully boring with a side of fremdschaemen at the obvious pandering and bad, bad humourless speeches. There are smaller organisations (or non-organisations as the Tropi Garde) which still is full of witty political commentary made by volunteers and no politicians or business tycoons are invited, but one has to find it.

Iceland - nothing


Aachen - Rosenmontag (Rose Monday)
So I was under the impression that this is an official holiday until I started googeling (or rather using duckduckgo for searching) facts for this post. Public institutions are closed on this day, public transport is running on a holiday schedules. There are parades, which means the city is closed for traffic. The parades include candy being thrown into the crowd of onlookers. We used to come home with bags full of candy as kids.

Iceland - Bolludagur (cream puff day)
Cream puffs are eaten that day. Imagine a donut bun filled with marmalade and cream. Yum, yum, yum, yum!


Aachen - Dienstag
People are going back to work and/or slowly recovering from 4 days of partying. There are still some things going on, but it is winding down.

Iceland - Sprengidagur (bursting day)

Saltkjöt og baunir, túkall
Salted meat and yellow beans, two krónur"

old Icelandic song


This is the day you eat salted meat and yellow peas for lunch until you burst. From 2009 to 2013 IKEA offered salted meat and yellow peas for 2ISK (less then 1 cent) to honour the tradition, especially as a response to difficult situation for many Icelanders after the economic crisis. People ate so much that they puked, so they changed it in 2014 to 995ISK and this year they are selling it for 495ISK, which is still cheap (4€).

Aachen - Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday)
As I mentioned above, Karneval has folk as well as Catholic roots. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent is when last years palm branches (from Palm Sunday before Easter) are burned and the Ash used to mark the forehead with a cross. For the purpose of Karneval we say

Am Aschermittwoch ist alles vorbei
Ash Wednesday everything is over


The party is over, lent starts and after almost a week of constant partying people feel inclined to fast.

Iceland
... is confused here. They call it Ash Wednesday (Öskudagur), but this is the day the kids dress up in costumes and go through town from shop to shop to ask for candy, basically mimicking Helloween (not the same as Carnival, people!)




Writing a book part three - Notes from my editor

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My friend who works as a translator (Icelandic - English) and editor was nice enough to edit the blog for me. I also offered to pay her (because of course, this is her job), but she did not want me to, because she is a super nice person. I invited her to a beer instead. She did a great job, though could not keep herself from injecting some sass into her comments.

She was confused by some of my more German English:


Whut? Is this a German idiom? I don‘t get it.

I think... I don‘t know what you mean by this really.




I also seem to be making up words


This isn‘t a standard word. What is this meant to mean? People who own yachts?


This is not a word. I don’t really know what you mean?




Sometimes I capitalise, sometimes I don't


You should be consistent.

Consistency!




Shouldn't I know that, being German and all

No c in Bismarck?




Sometimes all she could comment was:

What?





Picture of the week - Reykjavík in Black and White

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I made that picture last year when winter actually had snow. This year it was mainly rain and storms. Last week there was even a thunderstorm, which I have never experienced in Iceland. Thunderstorms occur when cool air collides with warm air. One of those is rare in Iceland.


Hans Rosling

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Hans Rosling died yesterday at the age of 68. He was the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. Go and watch his videos now!
Posted on - Categories: Research


Goodbye Hlemmur

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Hlemmur is the terminal bus station for Reykjavík centre close to my house. I always had a soft spot for this station as it has a nice retro look and it was one of the few non-commercial places where people could meet and hang out.



As it is a place where many people wait for connections one would think that having an indoor place for people to wait, buy tickets, check the time table and so on makes sense. But then this is Stræto. The company which never replaced the shelter at the bus station next to my work which got flattened by a storm in 2015.

Stræto decided that Hlemmur is not cost-effective (Stræto is a private company) and gave/sold (I'm not certain which) it to the city. The city decided to ask for ideas for Hlemmur on Betri Reykjavík, an online citizen consultation forum and it was decided that Hlemmur should be changed into a food market. This leads me to conclude the following:

People who have time to use a platform like Betri Reykjavík ∩ People who go to work by bus = 0


and/or

People who have time to use a platform like Betri Reykjavík ∩ People who care about the availability of non-commercial spaces = 0


I'm bitter, because the whole winter Hlemmur, the bus station where I wait for the bus to work, had no inside waiting option, while the bus station from work in the middle of a freaking field did not even have a basic shelter.




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