Thursday, January 25, 2001

January 2001


Iceland is “Cool” at the moment; we notice that everywhere we go: in the media, with friends, on the streets and even in the cinema (Björk Guðmundsdóttir playing Sandra in Dances in Dark and Englar Alheimsins and 101 Reykjavík shown at the Sundance Film Festival). Then again Iceland has always been “Cool”! Last week CNN’s website was dedicated to Iceland and PBS had a segment every day on Icelandic topics. In Britain Iceland is very much In and the same goes for many countries in Europe. This is good for the most part. Tourists visiting Iceland have never been as many, this year more than the total population and every year there is an increase of more than 15%. Occupancy rate at the hotels in Reykjavík is 95 – 100% for the summer months, a little bit less in the countryside. So when are you going to visit Iceland? Not that I have opened a travel-agency but there are some good deals to go off-season to Iceland – even though Icelandair still holds a monopoly between the States and Iceland. Icelandair has a club called “Lucky” were the deals are as low as $280 compared to summer prices which go up to $1,200 per person flying coach. Of course, the weather in Iceland is colder in the winter than the summer and the days are dark. Iceland is about 30 – 40 in the winter and 60 in the summer is a very good day. It can get colder but never as cold as Chicago when it is the coldest, so the phrase we commonly hear when people know we are Icelanders “o’ you must feel at home when it’s cold in Chicago” is untrue. It is rainier in Iceland, especially, in Reykjavík and surrounding areas, whereas in the North the difference between winter and summer is clearer, usually sunnier in the summer and snowier in the winter. The warmest it gets in Iceland in the summer is either in the East or South under Vatnajökli, the glacier. Enough of that, but weather is one of the most popular topics in Iceland and young people in a village called Dalvík even formed a Weather-Club.

We are receiving membership fees but only half of you have paid – if you have not done so please send the membership fee ASAP. Some of you have donated of your hard earned dollars to the association, for which we are thankful. It is good to have some funds in reserve if anything unexpected comes up. We will publish your name in the newsletter with our gratitude unless you ask us not to.

Þorrablót is coming up and we look forward to see all of you there. This year we have a new location, “new” musicians that come highly recommended, and “new” food.

Have a great year 2001.

Einar Steinsson, President

From The Icelandic National League of North America (INL of NA)

The INL of NA was established in Winnipeg, Canada 1919. Its objectives are to promote good citizenship among people of Icelandic origin and descent, to strengthen a mutual understanding of kinship, language, literature, and cultural bonds among people of Icelandic origin and descent in NA and the people of Iceland, and to maintain an active and viable association with individuals and organization which have similar objectives. The 82nd Annual INL Convention will be held in at the “Quay West”’ hotel in New Westminster, Vancouver, British Colombia April 26-29, 2001. The INL has asked us to encourage people of Icelandic descent to attend so they can experience and support the continuity of our heritage and culture. For further information contact: Ray Johnson, tel. 204.857.6469, e-mail or mail: Icelandic National League of NA 103-94-1st Avenue, Gimli, MB, R0C 1B1 Canada, Tel. 204.642.5897, fax: 204.642.9382, e-mail:

From the editor


One of the more interesting novels I have read is the two volume work of Böðvar Guðmundsson (b. 1939): “Híbýli vindanna” (Where the Winds Dwell) and “Lífsins tré” (The Tree of Life). This is a vivid description of the lives of 19th century Icelanders who move overseas to North America. The novel is very well written and based on thorough research. The description of the life of the poor and less fortunate in Iceland during these times is heartbreaking. The obstacles they face in their search of a better life, sometimes seem impossible to get past. In the end they reach Winnipeg and form a colony: New-Iceland. There they share the land with Native Americans and have to endure the extreme cold of winter, humitidy and mosquitos of summer and a Smallpox epidemic which almost wipes out the whole area. Ólafur fíólín, named after his only earthly posession, his violin, is one of the main characters. On his travels we meet other Icelanders who are trying to make the best of their lives as well. The second volume of the novel continues to tell the tale of Ólafur and his descendents and friends. For example, Ólaf´s son Jens Duffrín, who is named after an Icelandic thief and an English lord. He grows up with Mennonites and then joins an International Circus in Minneapolis. Most modern Icelanders who grew up in Iceland have distant relatives in America. Growing up I remember my great grandmother talking about her relatives in Canada and California, just as they were living next door. An occasional postcard or a letter, sometimes with pictures was received with great joy. I wondered why these people left and how things would have been different had life in Iceland made it possible for them to stay. I felt the novel of B. Guðmundsson greatly increased my understanding and insight into the life of the first Icelanders in America. I know an English translation of Where the Winds Dwell is currently available in manuscript for publishers but I am as of yet not aware of it being published. However, I am sure we will not have to wait for long. Further information can be found at At last here is a quote from a review from World Literature Today:

"Híbýli vindanna stands to date as one of the finest immigrant novels. Written with great sensitivity to the complexities of immigrant psychology, it is historically informative and accurate in its details. It is clear that the author has done an enormous amount of research on the emigration of Icelanders to Canada."

Farsælda Frón - The Icelandic Association of Chicago’s Newsletter. 1867 Tamahawk Lane, Naperville, Illinois, 60564. Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson, e-mail: Associate editor: Katrín Heiðar.

Website: Correspondence: The Icelandic Association of Chicago, Einar Steinsson, President 2212 N Rockwell St. Chicago, IL 60647-3004. Tel. 773-489-4621.


The Þorrablót will be held on March 3rd at the Gray´s Mill on 211 North River Street, Montgomery, Illinois (tel. 630.548.6755).

The Gray’s Mill is an old restored stone gristmill built in 1853, located on the picturesque Fox River in Montgomery. It is one of the most beautiful meeting facilities in the Western Suburbs and is listed on the National Register.

The Blót will begin promptly at 6.00 pm with gravlax, hákarl, brennivín and cocktails.

Traditional Þorra-food and American food from My Chef catering will be served.

Home made desserts and our famous raffle.

We present you the Icelandic music group “Hjónabandið” who we fly in from the West fjords of Iceland. Hjónabandið consists of Árni and Erna who are diary farmers at Vaðlar in Önundarfjördur. Árni and Erna have played at several Þorrablóts in Iceland as well as three times in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Ticket price at the entrance is $50 for members, $55 for non-members, $25 for children 6-15 years, and children 5 years and younger are free of charge. Tickets bought in advance are $45 for members and $50 for non-members.

Advance purchase of tickets must be made before February 24th. Please make checks payable to the Icelandic Association and send to Sonja Johnson, Treasurer, 6105 N. Glenwood unit 2, Chicago, Il 60660. Tel. 773.743.2417. E-mail: If you have not paid the membership fee, please do so at the same time.

From East: Take I-290 W, then I-294/I-88 W exit # 15A, on the left towards INDIANA/AURORA. Merge into E West toll way. After 23 miles take IL-31 exit towards AURORA/BATAVIA. Turn right onto S LINCOLNWAY/IL-31. S LINCOLNWAY/IL-31. Turn left onto WEBSTER ST/US-30 BR. Turn LEFT onto N RIVER ST/US-30 BR. From West: On I-88 E take IL-47 exit. Turn RIGHT onto IL-47 for 7 miles. Take US-30 for 5 miles. Take the IL-31 exit towards MONTGOMERY/AURORA/OSWEGO. Keep RIGHT at the fork in the ramp. Turn LEFT onto S LAKE ST. Turn RIGHT onto WEBSTER ST/US-30 BR. Turn LEFT onto N RIVER ST/US-30 BR.

Gray’s Mill is close to Comfort Suites, the Hollywood Casino and Walter Payton's Roundhouse. We have arranged for a group discount at the Comfort Suites, $105 for king size bed. A room at this rate can be reserved after February 10 by mentioning the Association. Further information regarding Gray´s Mill and My Chef can be found online at