Today I caught on to the real meaning of the Icelandic word for ‘midwife’ – which is ‘ljósmóðir’. ‘Ljós’ means ‘light’ and ‘móðir’ means ‘mother’ – so a midwife is a ‘mother’ who helps the child into the light.
Just figured I’d share that little epiphany.
AND WHILE I’M HERE
How many of you out there know that, here in Iceland, everyone gets addressed by their first name? People are not Mr or Mrs sowanso: not teachers, not the Prime Minister, not the President – nobody. People are even listed in the phone book by their first names.
Also, we use patronyms. Meaning that, for a surname, you take your father’s first name and add ‘son’ or ‘dóttir’ to the end, as in ‘Jónsson’ and ‘Jónsdóttir’. [Or your mother’s if you want. But father’s is more common.] Plus women don’t change their names when they get married, so if you have a husband and wife and son and daughter all in one family, every one of them will have a different last name. Which has prompted many a hairy situation for travelling Icelanders. [Border guard: Why do these children that you purport to be yours not share your name, Mr Jónsson? Can you explain that, hm?]
Incidentally, there is the odd family name in circulation. Such as ‘Kalda’. [Um… cough].
AND THERE’S MORE…
Icelanders are fascinated by geneology. In fact, one of the stock phrases in this country is ‘Who are your people?’ So in possibly the most triumphant garnering of goodwill ever devised, Icelandic geneology firm deCode Genetics opened a web a couple of years ago that allows every single Icelander to trace his or her lineage to every other Icelander, alive or dead, with the click of a mouse. It’s very cool and it shot deCode’s popularity through the roof. [Why they were unpopular to begin with is another story].
When I got my login details I of course wasted no time, logged in and entered EPI’s name. I got the shock of my life to discover that we were actually related a mere seven generations back! As our imminent separation – on grounds of incest – flashed before my eyes, I tapped in a few more names, and was immeasurably relieved to find that I was related to mostly everyone either six, seven or eight generations back. Phew!
AS FOR TODAY’S WEATHER
Started off with rain, but dried up as the day went on and actually wound up really beautiful – sunny and calm. AAH and I walked to the cinema to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [very enjoyable] but by the time we came out it had turned cold and windy so we were freezing our buns off on the way back. Couldn’t believe that on the way we were stopped by a couple of German tourists that were looking for the ice cream shop! Current temps are 7°C. Daybreak was at 06.11. Nightfall at 20.31.