From Iceland — The Most Red-Headed Icelander Is Chosen

The Most Red-Headed Icelander Is Chosen

Published July 8, 2021

Alina Maurer
Photo by
Akraneskaupstaður / Website

If you think you know enough about weird competitions, wait for this one. In Akranes, during the Irish Days festival, a red-haired competition was held for the 22nd time, deciding the reddest ginger on the island. Vigdís Birna, a 13-year-old girl, won the contest and officially bears the title of the most red-haired Icelander in 2021.

Red is rare

According to Fréttablaðið, red is the rarest hair color in the world and is most common among Westerners. The frequency is highest in Ireland and Scotland. Therefore it seems quite fitting that the most red-headed Icelander is chosen during Irish Days in Akranes. Only 6 to 8 percent of Icelanders are naturally red-haired.

The winner Vigdís Birna, lives in Akranes with her family and won a 50,000 ISK gift certificate from Icelandair as a prize. According to her, red hair is hereditary and belongs to both family’s sides. The competition was held for the twenty-second time and a total of twelve reds were registered for the contest.

Irish ancestors in Akranes

The event manager of Akranes, Fríða Kristín Magnúsdóttir states that the red hair of Icelanders can be traced to their Celtic ancestors, “Irish settlers came here first and that’s why we celebrate Irish days.” In the Saga of Akranes, the story of two brothers, born and raised in Ireland and descending from Norway is written down—though unfortunately, no source confirms that they were both of ginger descent. It also bears mentioning that a significant portion of Irish ancestry amongst Icelanders today can be traced back to Viking raids of Ireland, wherein Irish were taken as slaves and brought back to Iceland.

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