Which Country Used to Have TV-Free Thursdays?

Despite its name, Iceland is not really all that cold. It's not nearly as frigid as Siberia or northern Canada, for example. Statistically, winter temperatures in the capital, Reykjavik, are similar to those in New York City. But life in Iceland has been difficult in other ways.

For example, between 1915 and 1989, you couldn’t buy full-strength beer anywhere in Iceland. And for more than 20 years, from 1966 to 1987, Icelanders couldn’t watch television on Thursdays. The government banned all programming on Thursdays so that residents would spend the time going outside and socializing instead. In addition, July was considered to be a month for vacations, so nothing aired for an entire month, until that ban was lifted in 1983.

More cats, less crime, and no unusual names:

  • In 1924, dogs were banned in Reykjavik as a way to prevent a type of tapeworm that can be passed from dogs to humans. The disease can cause blindness and lead to death. You can own a dog in Reykjavik now, but cats are much more popular.

  • A 1956 ban on boxing still exists in Iceland. The ban was imposed out of a belief that boxing could lead to an increase in violent crime. In its place, martial arts such as judo, karate and MMA fighting have become popular.

  • The Icelandic government takes an interest in how children are named. Any first name that does not appear on the government’s list of 3,565 names must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee.
More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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