Curated by Ed Boitano
I love the colors of the Icelandic flag. They are so much like my own—the red, white, and blue of the United States of America. But this flag of Iceland also bears a striking resemblance to the flag of Norway. They are identical, except the blue and red parts are reversed. Is this a coincidence? Or did Norway copy Iceland? — Flabbergasted
Dear Flabbergasted (– or should I say Flaggerbasted?):
It is laudable for you to assume Iceland taking the lead. After all, they did invent democracy.
Their flag, however, is one of a series of Nordic cross flags. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland use a similar style with their own unique colors. All but Finland’s pre-date Iceland’s.
The Icelandic flag was officially adopted in 1944, but it was used unofficially for several decades before that.
Its colors are symbolic. Blue stands for the mountains. White evokes snow and ice. Red represents Iceland’s volcanos.
June 17th is Flag Day in Iceland. A perfect time to visit because the days are long, the flowers are in bloom, and the whales are Instagram-ready.
Stay for the summer solstice and you are guaranteed to find a groovy, if not pagan, kind of love. — Icelandic American
I know the Blue Lagoon is famous, but concerned if it’s 100% safe? I’ve seen photos with smoke, and wonder if it’s from the tectonic plates. — Brenda
Brenda, my concerned friend:
They say Iceland is a land of fire and ice. But, as I sense you intuit, it is also a landscape of smoke and mirrors.
Geothermal energy heats the seductive waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. This heat, plus the aroma of sulfur, arouses the senses like an aphrodisiac.
Although Vikings believed this foggy lushness rising from the spa to be animal passion made flesh, it is just ordinary steam, the kind you can make yourself when you boil an egg. As for tectonic plates, I suggest you pour yourself a gin and tonic and remember that we pay professionals to deal with things such as geology and shifts in the earth’s crust. We go on vacation to clear our minds of this clutter. — Icelandic American
Meet our Icelandic-American: Kelly Hughes
Seattle-born Kelly Hughes has embraced his Icelandic heritage by writing for his local Icelandic Club newsletter, singing with an Icelandic Men’s Choir, leading a Viking History discussion group, and sharing his mother’s homemade “Vínarterta” at Scandinavian events. Today, he channels these Nordic impulses exclusively through Traveling Boy, preferring the intimate relationship between reader and sage.
Feel free to send questions about any form of travel that you like. Please contact Editor@TravelingBoy.com and you’ll receive a speedy reply. – EB