Icelanders Consider Naming Winter - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelanders Consider Naming Winter

Published March 12, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Sébastien Van Malleghem

This year’s winter has been so fierce that there is a discussion underway to name it, reports RÚV.

Suggestions range from “Vindaveturinn mikli” (The Great Windy Winter) to “Rokrassgat” (Windy Butthole).

Historically it has been common to name great Icelandic winters, a tradition that goes back as far as 976.

Meteorologist, Elín Björk Jónasdóttir, believes that this winter is now the most storm ridden so far this century. Since November 1, 37 low pressure fronts have hit Iceland and barely 3 days have passed in a row without storm warnings and travel disruptions.

Despite this, Elín Björk told RÚV there are certain criteria that have not been met this winter that were common in the great winter’s of yore – the sea itself freezing for example.

Past examples of great Icelandic winters include: Vetur hinn mikli (The Great Winter) in 1078, Nautadauðavetur (Winter Of Dead Bulls) in 1187, Jökulvetur hinn mikli (The Great Glacial Winter) of 1233, Hrossafallsvetur (Winter of the Fallen Horse) in 1313, Ísavor (The Spring of Ice) in 1320, Sláturhaust (The Autumn of Slaughter) in 1381, Píningur (Winter of Torment) in 1620 and Frostaveturinn mikli (The Great Winter of Frost) in 1918.

Please note: these historical winter names have been translated by the writer – suggestions of more fitting translations are welcome.

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