From Iceland — Well, You Asked: Let There Be Enough Light To See By

Well, You Asked: Let There Be Enough Light To See By

Published January 11, 2022

Well, You Asked: Let There Be Enough Light To See By
Josie Gaitens
Photo by
Johanna Eriksson

Another year, another batch of terrible advice from your beloved friends at Reykjavík Grapevine! This time, Grapevine’s Youtube Coordinator and resident Scot, Josie Anne Gaitens, takes the wheel.

What is your favourite Icelandic word?
I did a quick poll of the office, and the general consensus is that the most beautiful is the Icelandic word for midwife, “ljósmóðir,” which literally means “mother of light.” Less commonly used but also lovely in sentiment is “ratljós,” which translates to “enough light to see by.”

How much do you miss the sight of the volcano, 1 – 10. Because for me it’s a 12.
I’m with you there, buddy. I miss her so much, it actually feels as if the volcano and I have endured a drawn out and heart-rending divorce that resulted in her making off with the kids and the Porsche, leaving me rattling around the home alone, playing Phoebe Bridgers on repeat. I just want you back, babe.

I want to know who makes the peysa sweaters!
This depends on where you buy from, but the best and most authentic lopapeysur are always made by Icelandic grandmothers. If you can’t find an older Icelandic woman whose children have produced offspring, you can always go ahead and buy one from our shop. It comes with the added benefit of not having to badger random old ladies on the street for knitwear.

Do you like fireworks for celebrating the new year?
There is nothing Icelanders love more than fireworks. Only the Search and Rescue teams are allowed to sell them, so it’s also part of a big fundraising effort. You’ll see crowds of men huddled around these temporary stores the week before New Year’s Eve, delightedly comparing rockets and firecrackers like kids in a sweet shop. And I say, let them. Let’s fill the night with a thousand stars as a grand and futile gesture of light in the darkest days of the year. A glorious middle finger to the heavens to protest the bleakness, the perpetual night, the aching cold, and the fact you didn’t receive the lopapeysa you wanted for Christmas. Amen.

Got a burning question that needs answering? We give absolutely terrible advice, but since you keep asking, we’ll keep answering. Email ’em in to

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