Iceland’s Swimming Pools and Laufabrauð Proposed as Intangible Cultural Heritage Skip to content

Iceland’s Swimming Pools and Laufabrauð Proposed as Intangible Cultural Heritage

By Yelena

Laufabrauð.
Photo: Golli. Laufabrauð, a traditional Icelandic Christmas treat.

Minister of Culture Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir wants Iceland’s government to nominate the country’s swimming pool culture and laufabrauð (a traditional Icelandic bread made at Christmastime) to the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage, RÚV reports. The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies took part in determining which aspects of Icelandic culture would be nominated for the lists.

Laufabrauð is a thin, decorative, fried bread made and eaten during the Christmas season in Iceland. It originated in North Iceland but is now eaten throughout the country. The geometric patterns in the bread are cut by hand or using a brass roller. Making laufabrauð is often an activity that brings together families in Iceland and an unmissable part of Christmas celebrations.

“I think we can all agree that laufabrauð and the Christmas tradition is something that brings the whole family together and is unique to Iceland,” Lilja stated. “And then of course this rich swimming pool culture, which is, in my opinion, absolutely magnificent and a huge attraction for the country as a tourist destination.”

Geothermal swimming pools are a feature of most towns in Iceland and are a source of relaxation, physical exercise, and social interaction for locals. While modern geothermal swimming pools were largely built starting in the middle of the 20th century, the use of natural geothermal pools stretches back many centuries in Iceland.

UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage were established in 2008. They aim to ensure the better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide. Argentine tango is one example of a tradition included on the lists, and France’s “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” was added last year. If approved, swimming pool culture and laufabrauð would be the first items on the list unique to Iceland.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!