From Iceland — Just Sayings: "Ekki er úti öll nótt enn, sagði draugurinn"

Just Sayings: “Ekki er úti öll nótt enn, sagði draugurinn”

Published December 1, 2020

Just Sayings: “Ekki er úti öll nótt enn, sagði draugurinn”
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Adobe Stock

This saying is from one of Iceland’s most famous books, simply called ‘Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og æfintýri’, which was compiled and published by Jón Árnason. The saying translates to this: “The night is not over yet, said the ghost.”

The story is about a poor worker who meets a greedy ghost of a rich man. The ghost for some reason mistakes this poor bastard for a fellow ghost—weird because he sniffs him pretty thoroughly beforehand. Anyway, the ghost takes the worker to a barn where the ghost had hidden its gold when they were still alive. The worker then shuts the barn, makes sure no daylight comes in, and delays the ghost as he plays with its money. As dead people do, I suppose.

In the morning, the worker tells the ghost, “The night will soon be over,” to which the ghost replies, “The night is not over yet.”

When it’s bright again, the worker suddenly opens the barn door forcing the ghost to its grave. But suddenly, the worker blocks the ghost, forcing it to promise him that he will not leave the grave again. The ghost reluctantly agrees. Of course, the worker then takes the money, and the ghost never returns. Because what the hell are you gonna do with gold after death?

The moral of the story is… well, unclear. But the saying is often used in Icelandic and means that there is still a chance even if you are in a narrow position. It’s particularly used in politics or business—you know, the stuff ghouls are good at.

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