Iceland Mag

7 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Culture

45% of Icelanders live by the motto "Þetta reddast", the quintessential Icelandic credo

By Staff

  • Winning so much they are almost tired of winning! At the 2016 EURO. Icelanders sometimes seem to have a limitless optimism and a belief that the impossible can happen and that all problems will solve themselves. Photo/Vilhelm

According to a new poll from the University of Iceland Icelanders are generally quite happy with their lives and believe that their lives are characterized by luck. Only a fifth of Icelanders say they are superstitious. Nearly half, however, say they live their lives according to the Icelandic saying "þetta reddast", which can be translated as the belief that "things always have a way of working out in the end".

Mapping the belief in luck
The study is the first large scale attempt to map how the belief in luck and superstitions among Icelanders and to gauge how these are connected to happiness. 

The study revealed that 11% of Icelanders believe they are "very lucky" and another 41% say they are "rather lucky", with just 10% say they are either rather or very unlucky. 37% say they are neither lucky nor unlucky. People's perception of their luck appears to increase as they get older, and there is a strong correlation between luck and happiness. Unsurprisingly happier people are significantly more likely to consider themselves lucky. 93% of happy people say they are lucky, while just 12% of unhappy people say they are lucky.

Women are also more likely to say they are lucky than men: 57% of Icelandic women and 48% of men say they are rather or very lucky.

Instead of superstition we have "þetta reddast"
While the majority of Icelanders appear to feel that fortune smiles upon them very few people are superstitious. The study found that just 3% say they are "very" superstitious and 15 say they are somewhat superstitious. 7% say they own a lucky charm and 21% a lucky number. Most, but not all of these people admit they are superstitious.

While just a fifth of Icelanders is superstitious nearly half say they live their live according to the Icelandic belief that things always have a way of working out in the best manner. Problems have a way of working themselves out, a solution will always present itself, even when there are no solutions in sight at the moment and one should never let a little (or alot!) of adversity get you down, because þetta reddast!

Read more: Iceland’s crisis management In two words: "Þetta reddast"

This belief, which is summarized in the Icelandic saying "þetta reddast", and can be described as a positive fatalism, can be seen to characterize all aspects of Icelandic life. 

Related content

Editor's Picks