From Iceland — Just Sayings: Those White Ravens

Just Sayings: Those White Ravens

Published December 29, 2020

Just Sayings: Those White Ravens
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Adobe Stock

This saying, ‘Sjaldséðir eru hvítir hrafnar’ is something that all Icelanders use at least once over their lifetime. It is also a saying that makes you sound like a badass old Viking in a mood for war at the same time. Well, as long as you speak it with a suspicious tone. Try it out, trust me.

The saying literally translates as “you rarely see white ravens”. And it’s accurate also, unlike so many Icelandic idioms, which can sound like a pure absurd mindbender for the modern person. The last white raven the media reported was seen in 2003. Rare indeed.

But what does this actually mean? Nothing important, unfortunately. It just means that you haven’t seen a person for the longest time, and you often greet them with this saying to state that you haven’t seen him for a long time. Simple as that. But it’s a bloody fun way to greet an old friend with a dramatic saying like that and deepen your voice a little while you do it. Anyways, march on!

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