The Mystery of Vínarterta: In Search of an Icelandic Ethnic Identity
ABSTRACT: Does there exist a distinct Icelandic ethnic identity in contemporary Canada? To what degree is it similar and to what degree is it different from the traditional Icelandic national identity? Referring to poetry, telepathic messages and works of scholarship, as well as interviews with Canadians of Icelandic origin, this paper tackles these questions. A special emphasis is placed on what Herbert J. Gans has defined as “ethnic symbols,” such as linguistic ethnic markers, ceremonial holidays and ethnic food. Some of these symbols, in particular the pastry known as “vínarterta”, suggest not only how different Icelandic ethnic identity in Canada is from Icelandic national ethnicity, but they also reveal the dire necessity for it to be so.