Now that we’re all back at the office with our bellies full and our spirits broken because of a classic April snowfall that killed our hopes for an early spring, it’s also time for a new News Edit. So what has been on Icelanders’ minds of late, besides chocolate eggs and the craziness of family dinners? Here’s a round-up of fresh debates, hot topics and crazy madness from these past few days.
Since Easter has just passed, why not start with the annual, never-ending debate on the ban on bingo? As we mentioned in our Easter Guide, social gatherings of all sorts are banned in Iceland on Good Friday. The Bingo Ban Laws are rarely enforced because—let’s face it—the police have better things to do with their time. Individuals who don’t identify as Christians, however, (including members of the Pirate Party and of skeptic society Vantrú) are pushing for a change in the law on the basis of freedom of religion. “People are of course free to choose whether they don’t want to play bingo or engage in any other fun activities during Easter,” chairman of Vantrú Sindri Guðjónsson told Vísir. “But it’s wrong to force everybody to do the same.”
Amongst those at the mercy of state decisions, we should definitely count Icelandic midwives. A couple of weeks ago the country learnt that after four years of nursing school and two more years to specialise in midwifery, students who take this career path are actually paid less than regular nurses. After years of attempted strikes and battles to raise their wages and improve working conditions, however, midwives came to the conclusion that going on strike doesn’t actually affect anyone the way it should. “There are always a certain number of emergency workers,” a midwife explained. “So no one would really be affected by a strike but the midwives themselves.”
Something that Icelanders seem to find even more interesting than midwives, however, is polar bears. News has arrived from our neighbours in Greenland that polar bears have been invading towns in unusual magnitude. At least 30 bears have in fact been seen in the town of Ittoqqortoormiit in the past few months, even though attacks on humans are rare. Nevertheless, Greenlanders still take it upon themselves to kill the wandering polar bears and take of advantage of both fur and meat. Members of the Icelandic Chess Society Hrókurinn, who were there for a chess tournament, got a taste of it, but shocked as they were by the whole situation we doubt they managed to digest that mouthful!