Most towns and villages in Iceland have their own strange little words and sayings that only locals understand.
In my hometown, Akranes, we say the word “sansa” a lot. You can ask someone, "Can you sansa this?" It means, "Can you take care of it?" You could also say, "I just need to sansa this a little bit and it will be good as new."
When I first moved from Akranes to Reykjavík, I got a lot of blank stares when I talked about sansa-ing things. But there is an Icelandic saying that everyone uses—Þetta reddast.
Nothing exemplifies the collective Icelandic mindset as clearly as those two words. Þetta Reddast (pronounced thet-ta re-dust) means it’s all going to work out in the end. Or don't worry, it’s going to be okay!
Our favorite time to use it is when we are in a seemingly hopeless situation and we need to break the tension. During the last few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, most Icelanders have remained calm amidst drastic unpredictability. Trust in the government is high. Here, operations to address the pandemic are led by scientists not politicians.
How we react to things beyond our control is a good test of character. Yes, this is a scary and overwhelming time here in Iceland as it is around the world. But you do your best, practice social distancing and trust that things will work out in the end. That’s really the only option!
Foreigners living in Iceland often notice how the saying Þetta Reddast is easily tossed around. Some say they feel like it’s Icelanders way of not taking responsibility for things, þetta reddast - somebody else will figure it out!
But that’s not how we Icelanders see it. Iceland is a place with constant uncertainty - this is a small, isolated island with the threats of erupting volcanoes, avalanches, unpredictable weather and an uncertain currency. There is no use in allowing things, even very serious things, to upset you. Today, like always, you have to be able to carry on. Þetta reddast!
Eva Eriksdottir is the Marketing Manager at FlyOver Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her husband and two children. Eva has worked in tourism and marketing for the past 9 years and holds a master’s degree in Business Development and Innovation. When she is not working hard on promoting her country, Eva likes to lay on her couch, scroll through Twitter and then swiftly fall asleep as soon as she and her husband find something on Netflix they both want to watch.