Jólin eru að koma?

Jólabjór (Christmas beer) has arrived in the bars and the vínbúð, and a lot of the places I go to drink are now decorated for Christmas. Even though we are less than halfway through November. But I am willing to forgive Iceland this, because it is at least starting later than it does in Britain (no jokes, I have seen Christmas adverts in August), and also because jólabjór is delicious. I think so far I have had the one from Tuborg (a Danish brewery) and the house jólabjór at Ölstofa Kormáks og Skjaldar (recommend!). As far as I can tell, they are just quite dark, reddish ales, and not especially Christmasy. Which seriously, Iceland, you should have good beer widely available on draught all year round. Also you should sell crisps in bars. Work on that. 

It will not surprise people to learn that I have a no-mince-pies-before-December policy, even though they are in the shops long before that. It is not appropriate to be eating Christmas food in November, and if you do it I am judging you. Usually what happens is my desire for mince pies rises to intolerable levels throughout November and then on the 1st December I eat an entire pack by myself and feel a bit sick and regretful. Once into December I make an effort to eat mince pies and drink mulled wine at every available opportunity and spend as much time as possible covered in crumbs, in a sugar-and-alcohol daze. 

Unfortunately, I don't think mince pies and mulled wine are a thing in Iceland, so I will probably have to wait until I go back to Britain (I'm currently thinking this will happen on the 14th or 15th December) for the traditional pie binge. Maybe I could make my own? But you probably can't buy the mince here either, and there is no way I'm making that myself. In case you are interested, other irrational Christmas prejudices I have are: no advent calendars with chocolate, only pictures, and no Christmas songs that aren't about Jesus. Especially no Slade. On a sidenote, I once had an advent calendar where a disproportionate number of windows had pictures of birds. Only there aren't that many Christmas-related birds, so as well as a turkey, a robin, a partridge and a goose, there were also ducks, sparrows, blue-tits and a swan. I loved it, but I didn't understand it.

However, I am not going to wait until December with jólabjór, because having a special beer at Christmas is not one of my seasonal traditions, so I don't feel so constrained. It's slightly more expensive than the standard horrible pale lagers, but so worth it. I'm probably not drinking anything else until I go back to Britain. Unless I try to mull some wine at some point, which I think I might. Jólabjór is also good news because my natural inclination to sit and get drunk in pubs is only going to intensify as it gets darker, colder and wetter. It is already getting light and dark upsettingly late / early respectively, although actually still pretty warm. I just looked it up, and sunset and sunrise yesterday were at 9.42 and 16.40, which is surely enough to make anyone want a drink. My friend Stacey has declared her intention to make it Drunk December, which must be a good idea because it alliterates. I look forward to joining in the first half with her.


  1. I gather that you will soon discontinue your interesting and amusing sojourn in Reyjavik. I have been one of your regular readers and will miss you now that you are grown up and speak Icelandic. I am grown old but cannot speak Icelandic. My grandmother was an Icelander who emigrated in the 1890s. Eventually, far away from northern climes, she met and married a Norwegian, and integrated into a Nordic settler community. The subsequently large family spoke Icelandic, Norwegian and English, sometimes all in the same conversation which I used to find quite entertaining when I was a child. In addition to these "home languages", my mother could make herself well understood in Danish and Swedish. I am not so accomplished, but manage to speak two languages fluently. Long ago I asked one of my cousins if she would teach me Icelandic, but she said it was far too difficult. It is not clear whether she meant it was too difficult to teach, or that I was not bright enough to be taught. We have not spoken since, in any language. Thank you for taking the time to write about your Reyjavik experience. May the blue bird of happiness fly over your head, although perhaps best not directly overhead. With kind regards. F16 Landing Gear.

  2. Ha, I'm still nowhere near fluent in Icelandic. I muddle along, and have an enormous amount of respect for anyone who has achieved genuine fluency in another language. Thanks for your comment, I'm really glad you enjoyed my ramblings and life reports this year. It's been an interesting year, for sure.

    The good news is that, if everything goes according to current plans, I will be back in Reykjavík next January, trying to become a real life person. So hopefully the Icelandic episode of my life is not over yet, although it's getting a good deal more stressful. So this blog should be continuing into 2012.

  3. I've already eaten a mince pie this year. It wasn't entirely my fault, but I'm fraught with guilt about it.

    Secondly, I took your profile picture there! Very proud.

    Thirdly, strangers read your blog?! Weird.

    Ann xx

  4. Nooooooo! If it was like a social function and it would have been rude to say no, then you are excused, although I think the organisers of the function should take a good long look at themselves.

    I know, right? Strangers, what are you doing? Weird in a good way, though.