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1. maí.  In Icelandic, it's pronounced almost like "FEE-stee MAH-ee", with an unvoiced rolled "r" thrown in after the EE.  It's also the day that we all get a day off work in order to go downtown and find something to protest.  ;)  Yeah, that's a bit hyperbolic.  But not as much as you might think.

Pics from International Workers Day from a country where almost everyone is in a union and words like socialism (sósíalismi) and welfare system (velferðarkerfi) are not dirty words.

Plus: Today I become a launþegi a full-time salaried employee instead of a contractor, and am now a member of the union FFR: Félag Flugmálastarfsmanna Ríkisins (National Association of Aviation Employees

(Above: "Ást" means "Love")

(Above: "Better Quality of Life, Better Life")

(Above: The unions show off their colors.  Most of the banners and signs were from unions.)

(Above: "Out of NATO.  No Military.")

(Above: "Free Palestine".  Iceland is the first western nation to recognize Palestine as an independent state.)

(Above: Part-time teachers demand their own union.)

(Above: The speeches and choirs concluded with the singing of L'Internacionale (Alþjóðasöngur Verkalýðsins, or "The international song of the proletariat"))

(Above: This woman was really into Alþjóðasöngur Verkalýðsins  ;)  )

(Above: I headed over to Iðnó, in a building that was an old opera house, where a meeting of Samfylkingin (the largest party in the current governing coalition) was being held.  And hmm, now who is that, sitting two tables over from me?)

(Above: Why, it's Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the prime minister of Iceland.  :)  )

(Above: Sorry the bad pic, Jóhanna!)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not only *could* I join a union here... (11+ / 0-)

    ... but I had about half a dozen different unions to choose from.  And your benefits vary a good bit depending on which union you're in, everything from retirement funds to vacation days to how nice of a union summer house you can book for vacations (you know, the important stuff  ;)  )

  •  Part-time teachers union (6+ / 0-)

    I was actually one of the organizers for a part-time teachers union. It was an interesting experience. The state union still doesn't understand us and doesn't realize that our issues are not the same as those of the full-time teachers.

    Thanks for posting the pictures.

  •  all that blatant socialism!!! (6+ / 0-)

    How will you survive.....

  •  Sounds like you are very happy there. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei, ms badger, Chun Yang, Velocity

    Once again I am impressed to see fully grown trees (though mostly leafless) in your pictures, which TV reports on Iceland over here never mention or actively deny.
    Are there any other may day traditions in Iceland, like may wine (unlikely since I doubt woodruff grows there), maypoles and dancing?

    Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

    by intruder from Old Europe on Tue May 01, 2012 at 03:51:10 PM PDT

    •  The environment here right now... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, Velocity

      is what you would call early to mid spring in most of the US.  Everything is coming into leaf, the early bloomers are blooming, other things are starting to spring out of the ground, etc, but seldom are plants in full leaf yet.  Ours is a short but intense growing season.

      If you want to see Icelandic forests, check out some of those in the northeast:

      They're not going to win any awards for height, but they're still quite beautiful, and nothing trivial.  In a decade or two Iceland will be self-sufficient in terms of lumber production.

      Unusual May Day traditions?  Hmm, there was a gigantic motorcycle rally, if that counts  :)

      •  Ah, so the trees ARE the right height! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a gilas girl, Velocity, marsanges

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Tue May 01, 2012 at 04:37:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the links! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That's way more forested than I imagined.
        Not sure what counts for early to mid spring in the US. In my garden (in Germany) the apple trees are in full bloom, while the cherries and plums are done. Most trees have at least some leaves, but some don't, e.g. the walnuts, but ash as well.

        Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

        by intruder from Old Europe on Tue May 01, 2012 at 08:56:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's just parts of the country that are (0+ / 0-)

          forested, as Iceland experienced heavy deforestation through much of its history, bottoming out at under 1% in the middle of last century.  But we're back up to several percent now.  It's estimated that when the settlers arrived, as much as 25% of the country was forested.  Reforestation is a challenge though, not only because of erosion, but also because of the sheep; they have to be excluded from an area or they'll graze away the saplings.  Lupine has been used to restore the soil, although it's a mixed bag because it's an invasive non-native.  But it does tend to grow itself out after a couple decades in a given area, as by enriching the soil, it fosters new competition to itself..

        •  Oh, and as for blooming (0+ / 0-)

          I haven't seen any trees blooming yet, but most are leafing.  I have seen some flowers in a number of places blooming, some of those types that come up in late winter or early spring once the ground starts to heat back up.

      •  Forests (0+ / 0-)

        Those are beautiful pictures. They've done a great job at reforesting!

        When I was there in 1991 (which is practically the Dark Ages, by now), I think any group of more than 4 trees would have been considered a Forest. But they were already heavily promoting reforestation.

        I always love these updates. Thanks for taking the time to make them.

  •  nice yarn bombing! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rei, Cartoon Peril, Velocity

    I like the rich colors on the trees - looks like a crocheter like me would find some comrades for coffee and crochet.

    George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

    by Chun Yang on Tue May 01, 2012 at 04:13:37 PM PDT

    •  Huge knitting culture up here. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, Chun Yang, Velocity

      Hagkaup, one of the local chains of grocery stores, has a large section of the store for selling yarn and similar.  Especially the local "lopi" yarn (unspun wool -- can't be knitted by machine, but is extra warm)

      It's funny the sort of things you find like that which reflect on the culture.  For example, Byko, a local Home Depot-like store, has an impressive collection of brewing supplies.  ;)  Hmm, wonder what to make of that...

      •  not lopi, but similar (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        some Bolivian llama yarn I got, and dyed in indigo this week.I looked at the lopi online and it has that thick, wonderfully uneven texture.

        Colder climates produce animals with the best, warmest wool for yarn.

        George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

        by Chun Yang on Tue May 01, 2012 at 05:56:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Seems like I read somewhere that everyone in that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chun Yang, Velocity, NonnyO

    country are rather closely related, due to isolation and small population.  It would be hard to be pretentious when everyone pretty much knows everyone else, or is one person removed from knowing everyone else.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Tue May 01, 2012 at 04:41:24 PM PDT

    •  To one degree or another..., (5+ / 0-)

      ... many Icelanders are related.

      They have a national genealogy database to which everyone has access.  (As I understand it, their database is free of people copying wrong data since it was created from primary documents.  They had a medical database to track genetic diseases based on genealogy before they had the one that everyone has access to for genealogy purposes, if memory serves.  It's been a while since I read anything on it so my memory may be faulty.)

      There was an article online a year or so ago about an ad for cell phones (I looked for it on YouTube and can't find it).  It showed a couple romantically engaged..., then taking out their cell phones to check if they were related..., facial expressions indicated such, they parted in comic horror.  (Family feuds are also involved in a few cases.)  Their genealogy database goes back to the first settlers mentioned in the sagas.  Scientists there also study inherited diseases from another database based on their genealogies, which are all cross referenced with official records, so the relationships are documented.

      Iceland still uses the patronymic naming system so women keep their own names their entire lives, as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark once used to (by law, all three Scandinavian countries went to single inherited surnames by the late 19th or early 20th century; it was 1923 for Norway - that's the only one I remember off the top of my head, but some went to single surnames before then, especially in the large coastal cities).  I'd rather do genealogy research in their databases (for one thing, Norway and Denmark have their records online for free, and one is always working from copies of primary documents - Sweden's records have the same formats, the language is mutually intelligible, but they turned their records over to corporations and have paid web sites with images of their records).

      DNA testing has been done in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.  In both places, the yDNA of males is primarily Old Norse (as are their related languages since that hasn't changed much since Vikings settled those areas over a thousand years ago and Iceland's constitution is still the oldest written constitution in use today).  In Iceland, the mtDNA is very often Irish Celtic (Vikings founded many coastal areas of Ireland), and in the Faroe islands the mtDNA is very often Scottish Celtic/Gaelic (lots of Vikings settled in the Orkney Islands and that area).  It's quite fascinating.  These things are mentioned in passing on Wiki pages for Iceland, Faroe islands, and separate pages for the Icelandic language and the Faroese language.

      The isolation of the population works to advantage for certain livestock and such, and it is forbidden to bring Icelandic horses back to the island once they leave for fear they'll bring back diseases that could now kill them if it got loose in their equine populations.

      Volcanic eruptions and plagues and such have nearly wiped out the population of the island at times, too, and Iceland is still growing, thanks to the volcanoes.  It works like the "founder's effect" in the US with the people who got here from England first.  Those of us (me included) who can trace our ancestry to New England ancestors (Mayflower and for some 20-30 years thereafter), often find ourselves related either by blood or marriage to others who can trace their ancestry back that far; with so few people, the number of potential mates is limited.  I have New England ancestors on both my maternal and paternal lines.

      How The Earth Was Made.Iceland.

      Between all of the things that affect a population, plus the insular effects on language and genetics, Iceland is quite fascinating.  That's why it's so much fun for me to follow Rei's posts...!  :-)

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Tue May 01, 2012 at 10:16:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Despite the best efforts of some... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, Chun Yang

      to use the former NATO base to counter that   ;)

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