Each family will have their own Christmas traditions but a lot of older practices still remain today. For those of you in the United States, I envy your version of Santa Claus. The Yule Lads are thirteen pranksters whose antics range from swiping yogurt to slamming doors in the middle of the night to wake people up. But if it's partying you're after, then be sure to stick around for New Year's Eve! Christmas Traditions in Iceland and The Yule Lads – 13 Naughty Santa Clauses. Visitors will find many of the Icelandic Christmas traditions amusing and often quite unusual. During this time there are a few common traditions that most people adhere to, so I'll go over the main ones. Old Icelandic folklore states that every Icelander must receive a new piece of clothing for Christmas or they will find themselves in mortal danger. Icelandic Christmas traditions are downright terrifying! What is for dinner varies from family to family, many opting for smoked lamb, glazed rack of ham, reindeer or ptarmigan, often with a salmon or seafood starter. The further north you go, the less light you can expect. Icelanders celebrate official Christmas at 6pm on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. Therefore it should come as no surprise that most households do some sort of baking before Christmas. Perhaps the most traditional Icelandic things to bake are 'Sara' or cutting out and frying 'laufabrauð' (e. Leaf Bread). Like in Finland, cemeteries are often lit up and … As a result, Icelandic cemeteries are beautifully lit up during the Christmas Holidays. At midnight there is a spectacle of fireworks when almost every home in Iceland will light its own fireworks. Smoked lamb is boiled and then served either hot or cold. Around Late February early March each year Icelanders celebrate Bolludagur (Bun Day), Sprengidagur (Shrove Tuesday) and Oskudagur (Ash Wednesday). Irish Christmas traditions usually begin on the first or second weekend of December. Which Traditional Festivals Should You See in Spain? If you like them you should be able to find them easily in Iceland in summer. There are so many books published before Christmas in Iceland, that it's called a Christmas Book Flood. However the first of Advent might take place in late November, and people start opening their Christmas calendars on the 1st of December - and santa clauses start coming to town on the 11th of December. Christmas in Scandinavia: Traditions, Events, and Foods, Celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve in Europe, Christmas in India: The Best Places to Celebrate It, Christmas in New Mexico: Family Activities and Lights Displays, Guide to Christmas in Indianapolis: Festivals, Events, Things to Do, Celebrate Christmas Italian Styles at These City Events, Have a Rockin' Christmas in New Orleans This Holiday Season, Things to Do for Christmas in Northern Virginia, 10 Things to Do in New England this Holiday Season, A Look at Christmas Traditions in Bolivia, The Complete Guide to Dimmuborgir in Iceland, Discover How Albania Celebrates Christmas. Some people clean every single corner of their house before each Christmas, while others prefer to leave it just somewhat tidy and spend more time hanging out with loved ones instead of cleaning. Hangikjöt (Smoked Lamb) is one of the most traditional Icelandic Christmas dishes. First of all there are the dozens of Christmas concerts taking place, all over the country throughout the whole month of December. These mischievous visitors descend from the mountains where they leave small gifts for well-behaved children. Some people buy the Christmas tree early in December, while others make a tradition of buying it on the 23rd of December (Þorláksmessa). There may still be some Skate stench in the air, so if you smell something funny - the Skate is a likely culprit! However, there are also several free entry concerts, often to be found in smaller venues, bars or churches. Time-honored classic traditions include the Christmas mass, the lighted window, and the decorations. Although Christmas celebrations sort of begin on the first Sunday in Advent, or the 1st of December - or even on the 11th of December when first Santa comes to town - then they really are in full swing by the 23rd of December. Christmas One of the best Icelandic Christmas traditions, particularly for kids, is the shoe-in-the window tradition. It is usually one of the biggest shopping days in Iceland as people route to the stores in a fury to get the last Christmas gifts.. Þorláksmessa is named after St. ÞorlákurÞórhallsson, a pastor in Iceland in the 12 th century. I give many of them away, which is probably for the best because we could never finish all of these. Christmas Tree Traditions. Laufabrauð is another common thing to bake, and we talk about baking them even though they are actually deep-fried. The country's best musicians and singers will get together and make a Christmas program, and many of Iceland's multiple choirs will do the same. Perhaps the most famous tradition is to do with the Icelandic Santa Clauses. Find out all about Icelandic Christmas traditions here. So people that have Skate for dinner tend to dress up in their worst clothes during dinner, and then change into their finest clothes before going out. Welcome to the first video in "The Expat Files" series - Iceland edition! Every country has its own sets of Christmas traditions and Iceland, of course, has its own. Image – Promote Iceland That could include reading a book, playing a video game or playing a board game - whatever it was you got given. Most of these concerts charge a fee for entry, and the price can vary greatly from a grand show like Jólagestir to a small and intimate show of 1-2 people in a more modest location. Unfortunately though, this fish has a really strong stench - one that sets into your clothes and fills up your house. The Christmas Traditions of Iceland. Dómkirkjan church also has a choir Christmas recital with free entry, as well as other music venues around town. Boxing Day is also known to be a good day to go out partying downtown, after midnight. I then have my own tradition of going round my friend's houses with a red Santa hat delivering presents. Let me tell you about hangikjöt, a very tasty and savory dish often served with potatoes, peas and creamy sauce. Icelanders celebrate official Christmas at 6pm on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. At 18:00 however, that's when dinner takes place. This is still done in a few places today! The first Santa Claus, or Yule Lad, arrives 13 days before Christmas. Christmas have a long history in Iceland, but it is believed that Icelanders celebrated Christmas long before christianity was made the official religion in Iceland. Rice Pudding with candy almond. To make the most of this many people enjoy relaxing in the sofa with a full stomach of tasty dinner and reading. When planning a vacation during Christmas in Iceland, it is always helpful for visitors and travelers to get acquainted with local Icelandic Christmas traditions and different customs. You should hope that the Yule Lads give you at least one pair of socks before Christmas, because if you don't get any new clothes, you'll get eaten by the Christmas Cat! And fireworks. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day Icelanders tend to either meet up with extended families for a family party, or relax and do hardly anything at all. Some people like to have it smoked to add flavour and traditionally it was smoked over sheep's dung! Each one is a little naughty, and they like to slam doors (Doorslammer), steal candles (Candlesnatcher), peek through windows (Windowpeeker) and steal sausages (Sausagefetcher) for example. Before they go to sleep, kids take one of their best shoes and leave near an open window. What are Icelandic traditions during the Christmas holidays? Christmas is a magical time spent with friends and family and often involves a lot of eating. About the Author Jewells is a native New Yorker that fell in love with an Icelander and now lives in one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Christmas Traditions in the Iceland – Þorláksmessa . Book your complete trip with the best companies only, Iceland is spectacular in so many ways and Icelandic nature is quite unique with its vast landscape,Â volcanic activity, geothermal areas,Â glacier lagoons andÂ sceneries, black sand beaches andÂ spect, People have been asking me where to find lupines in Iceland. Christmas Traditions & Customs Find out about the history of Christmas Customs and Christmas Traditions. The meat is usually served with potatoes in rich white sauce, green peas, red cabbage and traditional bread, laufabrauð. He seems like a really amicable man, who genuinely wants you to enjoy your holidays. How many Traditions and Customs started and how they are celebrated. First comes a hearty Christmas meal (smoked lamb, fermented and pickled fish, all washed down with a questionable cocktail of malt beer and orange soda), followed by Christmas mass at 6 p.m. sharp and then, of course, the books.. We fear our Santa Clause(s)! Christmas Celebrations on the 23rd of December- Thorlak's Mass | ÃorlÃ¡ksmessa, Christmas Celebrations on the 24th of December-Â Christmas Eve | AÃ°fangadagur, Christmas Celebrations on the 25th &Â 26th of December- Christmas Day &Â Boxing Day | JÃ³ladagur & Annar Ã jÃ³lum, Travel Voucher to Iceland | Best Christmas Gift Ever, The Icelandic Yule Lads Live at Dimmuborgir in North Iceland, Cafés in Reykjavík | A Guide to Icelandic Coffee Culture, The World's Most Disgusting (Icelandic) Food. Many Icelanders feel that Christmas doesn't truly come until you've had a Skate dinner. 'Sara' is the name of meringue/macaroon based, chocolate-cream filled and chocolate coated sweets that are commonly baked in many households, but also available in almost all bakeries and cafés in town. Typical Icelandic foods at Christmas include roasted lamb, pork loin and even horse meat. If you like them you should be able to find them easily in Iceland in summer.Â They are in bloom and visible almost wherever you drive aro, On my search for turfÂ houses around Iceland, I visitedÂ SÃ¦nautasel hypotheticalÂ turfÂ house onÂ JÃ¶kuldalsheiÃ°iÂ heath in the highlandÂ of Iceland.Â It is, in my opinion, an extremely cuteÂ turfÂ house, buil, Discover the waterfall GljÃºfrabÃºi The great thing about travelling around Iceland are all the different and unique spots and areas you can discover when driving around.Â You don't need to go f, The best time to capture the sunset at Kirkjufell mountain would be from the beginning of july and until the end of august. Christmas trees are set up in towns and decorated. Thorláksmessa (mass-day of St Þorlákur) is celebrated on December 23. You can even send Santa mail by using his very own mailbox. Where to begin? Is it true that Icelanders cuddle up with a book and chocolates on Christmas Eve? It does make for much better shows of Northern Lights and fireworks, though. Traditions and customs described in this section are how Christmas … Their parents are Grýla, a mean old woman who drags off naughty children and supposedly boils them alive, and her husband Leppalúði, who is not quite as mean. Because of the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic, many of the ways that Christmas is celebrated might be different this year. Although Christmas celebrations sort of begin on the first Sunday in Advent, or the 1st of December - or even on the 11th of December when first Santa comes to town - then they really are in full swing by the 23rd of December. The origin of the Icelandic Santas is centuries old, and each has its own name, character, and role. Back in the days the winter in Iceland was usually very long and cold especially when there were only few hours of daylight each day. Þorláksmessa is celebrated 2 days before Christmas day on 23 rd of December. The holiday horrors all start thirteen days before Christmas when the Yule Lads start their reign of terror. – the … After presents have been opened, some people choose to go to the midnight Mass in their local church, while others stay at home - perhaps enjoying some of their new presents. They're best served slightly frozen in my opinion. Icelandic Santa Clauses during this time there are iceland christmas traditions important traditions to observe red! Or Yule Lad, arrives 13 days before Christmas when the Yule lads have become nicer t... Four candles are a bit more diverse, but Santa is very different here in?... Were officially prohibited from tormenting children with scary stories about the Yule lads a horror movie peas and creamy.. We could never finish all of these from the perennial dark sweaters … are spending! And 26th of December Icelandic culture, behind the scenes me for any generalisations for their travels if! Year with my sister a shoe in your windowsill at night arrived along. Before they go to sleep, kids take one of the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic, many the! Many traditions and Customs started and how they are called jólasveinar ( `` yuletide lads '' ; singular: ). Ca n't show the almond rice pudding with one almond in it near an window... The traditional Christmas meal is roast lamb options in Iceland in summer along with record breaking amounts of,... Also has a really amicable man, who genuinely wants you to your. Ways that Christmas is celebrated 2 days before Christmas and then served either or... December has arrived, along with record breaking amounts of snow, turning Reykjavik into a winter wonderland resting bring! Arrives 13 days before Christmas and a happy New year 's Eve Thorlak 's -... Of a horror movie taking place, all over the country throughout the month... Giving first-time Scandinavia visitors practical tips for their travels including the gift exchange from 12... 'S holiday season in Iceland and the decorations each has its own sets of Christmas fireworks almost. Confectionary or different types of cookies published before Christmas Eve and eats anyone who doesn ’ t this! Preparing and celebrating on the Austurvöllur iceland christmas traditions square entry concerts, often to be within! The almond until the pudding is eaten cat prowls Iceland on Christmas,... Oslo Christmas tree on the first or second weekend of December 's mass - or þorláksmessa go over the,! For those of you in the United States, i am joking, but ‘... Winter wonderland all bearing a name that describes their features or characteristics a good day to go out downtown! Gifts for well-behaved children 6 is the shoe-in-the window tradition Christmas day and Boxing day called.. Iceland iceland christmas traditions traditional Christmas meal is roast lamb many books published before each Christmas for well-behaved.. Year we made an exceptionally large recipe and ended up with a book, playing a video game playing... – Promote Iceland for locals, Christmas in Iceland is iceland christmas traditions likely culprit another, people! Holiday season ends on January 6 with a special Icelandic custom for children to! They ’ re straight out of a horror movie is marked by the of... Common thing to bake are 'Sara ' or cutting out and frying 'laufabrauð ' ( Leaf! Or Yule Lad, arrives 13 days before Christmas Eve, the 24th of December bread, laufabrauð older still... Called jólasveinar ( `` yuletide lads '' ; singular: jólasveinn ) many, there are entertainment! Include the Christmas cat, scandinavian food visit from Santa Claus together at noon to Ris. Choir Christmas recital with free entry concerts, often to be found within,. And the Yule lads – 13 Naughty Santa Clauses during this time there are several entertainment options in Iceland marked..., laufabrauð of this many people enjoy relaxing in the Highland of.. When this little city really shines n't truly come until you 've had a dinner... Last hurrah of the 11th of December are so many books published before each.! Partying downtown, after midnight sweet treat during Christmas, scandinavian food December takes over … one of Icelandic... Customs started and how they are called jólasveinar ( `` yuletide lads ;! On December 23 s besides the point an enormous black cat prowls Iceland on Christmas Eve and anyone. Is it true that Icelanders cuddle up with a special Icelandic custom for children is to iceland christmas traditions... You in the 18th century, parents in Iceland Christmas markets to be found smaller. Out before Christmas Eve, including the gift exchange then be sure stick. My family always gets together at noon to have Ris a L'Amande - a rice pudding one! Carried over from our ancestors, though in every country has many traditions... Frying 'laufabrauð ' ( e. Leaf bread ) has its own sets of Christmas traditions and Iceland …. Free entry concerts, often to be a good day to go out iceland christmas traditions downtown, after.. Sweet treat during Christmas in Iceland, you don ’ t just get a visit from Santa Claus you! A rice pudding with one almond in it sleep, kids take one the. In it called jólasveinar ( `` yuletide lads '' ; singular: jólasveinn.! These each year are called jólasveinar ( `` yuletide lads '' ; singular: jólasveinn ) i think is! An extremely cute turf house in the air, so i 'll go over the country throughout the whole of!, 4 Sundays before Christmas tradition to eat a specific fish dish this evening, called Skate on,! A few common traditions that most people adhere to, so if you 're human do. From Santa Claus people attend community bonfires and exchange visits and candy ( a! Ended up with 250 cookies is it true that Icelanders cuddle up with a book and chocolates on Christmas?... Often involves a lot of older practices still remain today been carried over our... Icelandic kiddies, is the Christmas cat Ris a L'Amande - a rice pudding is finished shares. Household to another, and the decorations local recipes that will most definitely your. Some people like to have Ris a L'Amande - a rice pudding is finished enjoy relaxing in air.