Costumed Teens Run Wild in Reykjavík

Dimmisjón - MR

Tourists strolling through downtown Reykjavík today may be surprised to come upon groups of costumed teenagers in high spirits, cavorting about the streets. The reason is a decades-old tradition called dimmisjón (sometimes spelled dimmition or dimission), a celebration that senior students across the country take part in around one month before their graduation. Due to shortening the school program from four years to three, this year there are two classes graduating simultaneously, which means there have never been more  costume-clad youngsters wandering around town.

In Iceland, after completing compulsory education at the age of 16, the overwhelming majority of students attend a non-compulsory “framhaldsskóli,” a sort of junior college, between the ages of 16 and 19. Completing a junior college exam is a requirement for university admission in Iceland. Junior colleges usually celebrate dimmisjón in April, about one month before the senior class official graduates.

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Though dimmisjón traditions vary from school to school, celebrations tend to last all day. Events can include an early breakfast with teachers, and end in a fancy school dinner, or privately-organised house parties. Classes or friend groups usually decide on a costume the whole group will wear, and in Reykjavík, they spend the afternoon strolling down Laugavegur as animals, objects, or movie characters. Some groups ask passers-by for photos or while others may sing or dance in celebration. Though Iceland’s legal drinking age is 20, it is rumoured that dimmisjón celebrations occasionally involve a drop or two of alcohol.

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