The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 23
October 26, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 How Iceland got it's chilly name
According to the early Icelandic historians, two at least of the first exploratory voyages to Iceland were launched from the Faroes in the middle of
Flóki has released his third raven
which flies straight to Iceland
the ninth century. There is mention of an outlawed Norwegian Viking called Naddod; he was on his way home to the Faroes, where he had settled, when he was storm-driven to the east coast of Iceland. He found no sign of human habitation, and left as soon as he could. As he sailed away the snow was falling heavily, so he called the country Snćland (Snowland). Nonetheless he had much praise for the country when he reached the Faroes. Another Norwegian Viking called Flóki Vilgerđarson heard of the discovery and determined to settle in this new country. He held a great sacrifice, and dedicated to Óđinn (the highest of the Gods) three ravens he intended to use as guides on the way. He paused at the Faroes on the way, where took the time to marrie off one of his daughters before he set sail for the north-west. When he was some way out he released one of the sacred ravens, which promptly headed straight back for the Faroes. Later he released the second of the ravens, which returned to the ship. When he released the third raven, it flew off towards some distantly sensed land far ahead, and now Flóki knew he was on the right way.
When he reached Iceland he sailed along the south coast and into the inviting bays of the west country. He and his companions found the waters teeming with fish. They spent all summer fishing to their hearts' content, but neglected to make any hay for the livestock they had brought with them. It was a hard winter and a late spring, and all their beasts died. While the northern fjords were still choked by sea-ice Flóki made haste to leave. He named the country Iceland, and when he reached Norway he did not have a good word to say for it. One of his companions tried to give a more balanced view, saying that it had advantages as well as disadvantages; but another companion, a man called Ţórólfur (Thórólf), had been entranced by it, and said that butter dripped from every blade of grass. So Ţórólfur was nicknamed Ţórólfur "smjör" (Thórólf Butter), while Flóki became known as Hrafna-Flóki (Raven-Flóki). The story of Raven-Flóki may smack of legend-making. Anyway, he came back later to Iceland and settled in the county of Skagafjörđur, in a valley which was later called by his name, Flókadalur (Flóki's valley). So, Iceland had received its misleadingly chilly name; but in the next few years, a host of Norse immigrants were to follow in Flóki's wake, hoping to find more butter than ice. And sure they did.
Ref. (mainly): "Viking expansion westwards, by Magnus Magnusson

 First Day of Winter
Officially the winter has arrived. According to the old Icelandic almanac, winter began on the Saturday following the 26th week of summer, October 21-27. It means that October 25th was the first Day of Winter this year. Since summer begins on a Thursday, it is regarded as ending on a Wednesday, leaving two days before the official beginning of the winter. These were known as vetrarnćtur (Winter Nights). The term "Winter Nights" was also used less specifically to mean the period at the beginning of winter.
In old Norse tradition, the beginning of winter was a time of feasting and celebration, as livestock had been slaughtered for the winter, and fresh food and drink were plentiful. Feasts, banquets and games held around the time of the Winter Nights feature in many of the Icelandic sagas.
The most important custom attached to the beginning of winter was that of predicting the weather for the coming season. Many variants of weather prediction are known, some relating to animal behaviour.
If field mice made an early start on digging their winter hibernation burrows, or sought shelter in farmhouses, this indicated that the winter would be a harsh one. There was general belief that mice would dig their burrows with the entrance facing away from the prevailing winds to be expected.
Other omens of a hard winter included the early departure of migratory birds, snow buntings gathering around the farmhouses, and the ptarmigan assuming its white winter feathers in early autumn. If the migratory golden plover remained into the autumn, a mild winter could be expected.
The art of reading clues to the weather from the Milky Way was well known, though shrouded in mystery and superstition.
"There were old men who claimed to be able to read from the Milky Way. They would go out on a starry night, preferably after the Winter Nights, and look up into the sky, sagely and portentously, but said very little, so people were none the wiser."
It was reportedly best to read the Milky Way during October, between Michaelmas and All Saints' Day. It should be read from East to West: light patches meant heavy snow or harsh weather, while darker patches meant fine, warm weather.
Ref. Árni Björnsson: "High Days and Holidays in Iceland"

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Your's truly ;-)
Well, maybe I should use this opportunity to introduce myself! It's about the right time now. Have been on the Web since 1995 and have been corresponding with many of you for years. And met some of you here in Iceland while you were visiting friends and relatives or searching for something to hold! But the majority on this list don't know a thing about me, except my name maybe. But I won't tell much. I live in Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, 66 years old, married, my wife is Erla Benediktsdóttir, we have three children, all grown up and married, each of them have two children and the best of it, they all live here in Reykjavík. Hey! no need to tell you more, is it? :-)

 Our Family Tree
Our Family Tree is growing. Now there are about 4000 names in it and you might find the name of one of your ancestors there. If not, and if you want to, I could connect you to the database. Just let me know.

Search our Family Tree :

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Copy for instance the name Ţórólfur "smjör" to the name field of the form and click the GO button. Then you can see who are his descendants in the tree.

Settler of the Week

Magnús Jósepsson

Steinunn Ólafsdóttir

In 1883 Magnús Jósepsson and Steinunn Ólafsdóttir emigrated with their two children Josep and Rosa, to North Dakota and settled in Hallson where they lived for the next 12 years. Then the family moved to Roseau, Minnesota and lived there the next 9 years. After that they moved to Blaine, Washington where they lived ever after.
Magnús was born at Skarđ in Haukadalur in Dalasýsla, West Iceland. His parents were Jósep Hallsson and Rósa Magnúsdóttir farmers at Skarđ and Steinunn´s parents were Ólafur Hallsson and Sesselja Einarsdóttir farmers at Núpur in Haukadalur. In America Magnús and Steinunn had three more children, Halla Josephina, Ólína Sesselja and Júlíana María.
The son Josep died in his thirtees, Rósa married Kristján Rósmann Casper, Halla Josephina married Frímann K. Sigfússon in Bellingham and Júlíana María married first Steve Welle and later Theódór Jóhannesson in Blaine.

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