Let’s admit it: Sports are more or less the biggest manifestation of modern superstition. You know, “laces out” and all that. Iceland is no exception. In 2016, scholar Kolbrún Lilja Arnarsdóttir wrote her thesis in ethnology about Icelandic superstitions surrounding handball. According to Kolbrún, there are three main categories—with a sadistic twist—that characterize Icelandic sport superstitions.
To get it out of the way, yes, there are some cliché superstitions about lucky charms. Some players have them—dressing the same way for each game, wearing the same socks, the same sweatband, donning the same number on their jersey, and so on. But most importantly, athletes that Kolbrún interviewed told her they always washed their clothes in between matches.
As far as superstitions go, that one is BORING!
Bubbi’s the word
Now, to the odd ones. One professional handball player said that she always listened to the same song before a game. Having a lucky song is not particularly strange, but the tune of choice of this player is “Háflóð” by Bubbi Morthens. For the foreigners reading, “Háflóð” is a weird Icelandic pop song from the 80s. We dare you to listen to it and tell us how lucky you feel. You probably feel more drunk than ready to run a field.
Another professional handballer said that he always vacuumed his apartment on game day. Productive, yes, but sounds more like something a doctor should check out.
Onto the sadistic stuff—finally! Apparently, it’s required that everyone who begins playing on the Icelandic National Handball Team must be brutally spanked by the whole team after the first game… in the shower. This blatantly violent act has actually resulted in some rookies dealing with a bleeding ass after the initiation. Some took days to recover.
This BDSM initially might seem like more of a tradition rather than a superstition, but hey—Icelandic handball won an Olympic medal. You haven’t seen any other teams do that. So this superstition has the Grapevine’s seal of approval. Keep on spanking, boys.
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