Civil marriage ceremonies conducted by representatives of Siðmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, have experienced a huge surge in popularity over the past year.
Certified representatives of the organization have been permitted to officiate such unions since 2013, and so far 85 couples have been joined in civil matrimony this year—compared to 56 in all of 2014.
According to Svanur Sigurbjörnsson, Siðmennt’s director of ceremonies, the most popular venue choice is outside, in the Icelandic nature.
“We are very flexible and can officiate anywhere and at any time. More and more people are witnessing these ceremonies and so knowledge of this option has spread by word-of-mouth,” Svanur told DV today.
Siðmennt is not a religious organization, but rather a life-philosophy association. Thus ceremonies involve no religious element but “include ethical messages with values that all humans share.”
“If people aren’t particularly interested in the religious aspect of marriage, this can be more to the point and more meaningful. We take great care to incorporate the couple’s story and our services are characterized by a mix of intimacy and lighthearted cheer,” added Svanur.
Siðmennt does not discriminate between loving couples, and marries people without regard to gender or sexual orientation.
Since 1989 Siðmennt has also offered a secular alternative to the confirmation ceremony, an integral aspect of Icelandic culture, which takes place in the spring of a child’s fourteenth year.
In 26 years the number of children civilly confirmed each year has grown twenty-fold, going from an initial group of 16 to 304 in 2015—accounting for 7,5 percent of all Icelandic children born in 2001.