"Hidden People" & more Icelandic legends

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Jul 12 21:22:38 UTC 2001

   Greetings from north Iceland.  I'm circling the island, making sure to catch EVERY SINGLE WATERFALL IN EXISTENCE.  Tomorrow I go looking for whales.

Iceland Review
1987; reprinted in 2000 and 2001

    These are mostly taken from Jon Arnason's ICELANDIC LEGENDS (translated by George G. J. Powell, 1864-1866).  I was shocked when no hit for "Arnason" came up on my OED online.  It's as if they were to skip the Brothers Grimm or Hans C. Andersen.

Pg. 117 (NOTES):  The common name for elves in Icelandic, _huldufolk_, means precisely "hidden people." (Not in OED--ed.)

Pg. 117:  _Badstofa_ was the common bed- and living-room of the traditional Icelandic farmhouse.  Originally a sauna--the word means "bathroom"--it later began to be used for sleeping in cold winters because the stone oven used to produce steam for the bath was easy to heat and retained warmth well.  So, little by little, the _badstofa_ became the center of the farmhouse, where people slept, ate, and worked.

Pg. 119:  Little is now known of the _vikivaki_ dance, as indeed of other popular Icelandic dances of old.

Pg. 119:
_Sending_: literally, anything sent, but in folk belief someone conjured up from the dead and sent to pursue and harm a targeted victim.

Pg. 119:
_Skyr_: an Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt or sour cream.  (OED has 1857, but it's in Arnason in the 1860s, and his tales are from 50 years earlier.  Skyr is everywhere and it tastes pretty good--ed.)

Pg. 120:
_Cake_:  This refers to an unleavened bread, somewhat like a Middle Eastern pita, usually called _flatkaka_, or "flat cake."

Pg. 121:
"...head by his buttocks...":  It was the folk belief that if a dead man's head was placed by his buttocks, he would then be unable to return and haunt the living.

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