The locals … It's worth noting, that for those without families to celebrate with or with low-income, there is a free Christmas dinner on offer in the City Hall, where a few hundred people come together to celebrate Christmas. On New Year's Eve, many people attend community bonfires and exchange visits. Many Irish Christmas traditions have been carried over from our ancestors, though some newer ones have cropped up recently. At 18:00 however, that's when dinner takes place. 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.. Nowadays during Christmas in Iceland, their function is to come to town bearing gifts and candy (and a prank or two). When families in Iceland gather on a crisp Christmas Eve, there are several important traditions to observe. Nov 26, 2016 - Explore Stephanie Pittman's board "Iceland Christmas Traditions" on Pinterest. Laufabrauð is another common thing to bake, and we talk about baking them even though they are actually deep-fried. To all my fellow Christmas lovers out there take note, a trip to Reykjavik in December, it is the best place to … Most restaurants and hotels offer Christmas buffets during the weekends, where one will find dozens of gourmet dishes including different types of … Leave this field empty if you're human: Don't worry, we don't spam! 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. At midnight there is a spectacle of fireworks when almost every home in Iceland will light its own fireworks. Some Christmas traditions in Iceland seem like they’re straight out of a horror movie. Christmas trees are set up in towns and decorated. If you like them you should be able to find them easily in Iceland in summer. They are in bloom and visible almost wherever you drive aro, On my search for turf houses around Iceland, I visited Sænautasel hypothetical turf house on Jökuldalsheiði heath in the highland of Iceland. It is, in my opinion, an extremely cute turf house, buil, Discover the waterfall Gljúfrabúi The great thing about travelling around Iceland are all the different and unique spots and areas you can discover when driving around.  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. I give many of them away, which is probably for the best because we could never finish all of these. The origin of the Icelandic Santas is centuries old, and each has its own name, character, and role. Christmas is a magical time spent with friends and family and often involves a lot of eating. 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. Iceland isn't a very religious country but we love the traditions and have a ton of them and many of them are easy for you to join in on over this merry time! In Iceland, … Traditions vary from one household to another. 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. – the … They're best served slightly frozen in my opinion. 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,  volcanic activity, geothermal areas, glacier lagoons and sceneries, black sand beaches and spect, People have been asking me where to find lupines in Iceland. He seems like a really amicable man, who genuinely wants you to enjoy your holidays. Finally, there are all the Christmas buffets around town, when several restaurants and hotels offer a decadent buffet of all sorts of Icelandic traditional Christmas food, including for example smoked lamb, gravlax, smoked salmon, herring, leaf bread, rye bread, turkey, goose, ptarmigan, reindeer or other exquisite delicacies. 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. Where to begin? The tradition of wearing genuinely awful Christmas sweaters … This is the main day. The main Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, including the gift exchange. But if it's partying you're after, then be sure to stick around for New Year's Eve! This is none other than Jólakötturinn – the Christmas Cat – of Iceland. Welcome to the first video in "The Expat Files" series - Iceland edition! You also get a visit from a total of 13 Yule Lads (Jólasveinar) in the nights leading up to Christmas (Jólin). December has arrived, along with record breaking amounts of snow, turning Reykjavik into a winter wonderland. 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. Starting at the end of November and leading up to Christmas day, the Christmas buffets are an essential part of the Holiday season in Iceland. 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. Presents are opened after dinner. See this. 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. Like in Finland, cemeteries are often lit up and … There are also several Christmas markets to be found within town, many of which offer free concerts as well. When she is not making podcast episodes or … Icelandic Christmas traditions are downright terrifying! Icelandic christmas traditions New Year in Iceland. Christmas Traditions in Iceland and The Yule Lads – 13 Naughty Santa Clauses. What do Icelanders do on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day? We want to tell you about two of them. And those hosting a Skate dinner will open up all windows to get the stench out before Christmas Eve. After Christmas, they leave one by one. Shops are open late and then close for three days during Christmas. It's also common to visit cemeteries where loved ones may be resting and bring a wreath, candles or lights. Each and every dish comes prepared using unique local recipes that will most definitely delight your senses. First of all there are the dozens of Christmas concerts taking place, all over the country throughout the whole month of December. 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. This year we made an exceptionally large recipe and ended up with 250 cookies! After Christmas, they leave one by one. Many attend midnight mass. So it's safe to say that the whole month of December is taken over with festive spirits in Iceland. Irish Christmas traditions usually begin on the first or second weekend of December. Be it gingerbread cookies, gingerbread houses, various confectionary or different types of cookies. Icelanders celebrate official Christmas at 6pm on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. And fireworks. For many, there is no Christmas unless the almond rice pudding is eaten. 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. What are Icelandic traditions during the Christmas holidays? You should learn about Iceland's Christmas traditions. Let me tell you about hangikjöt, a very tasty and savory dish often served with potatoes, peas and creamy sauce. 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. From the beginning of December, Icelanders set up Christmas lights into their windows and decorate with lights strings outside on their houses with Christmas lights. 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. Iceland has been Christian since the year 1000 (or 999, we‘re not completely sure) It does make for much better shows of Northern Lights and fireworks, though. Sara is a common sweet treat during Christmas, originally Danish. 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. Around Late February early March each year Icelanders celebrate Bolludagur (Bun Day), Sprengidagur (Shrove Tuesday) and Oskudagur (Ash Wednesday). That is to say, on the night of the 11th of December. When the clock strikes at 18:00, that's when Icelanders ring in Christmas. They are in bloom and visible almost wherever you drive aro... On my search for turf houses around Iceland, I visited Sænautasel hypothetical turf house on Jökuldalsheiði heath in the highland of Iceland. The Christmas Traditions of Iceland. These mischievous visitors descend from the mountains where they leave small gifts for well-behaved children. Nowadays during Christmas in Iceland, their function is to come to town bearing gifts and candy (and a prank or two). Icelanders really go all out in Christmas celebrations. Smoked lamb is boiled and then served either hot or cold. 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. 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. Additional Christmas trees all around the capital area are lit, including trees in Hafnarfjörður Heritage Harbor, Mosfellsbær Mountain Borough and Kópavogur Culture Hill. If you behave badly, you might just get an old potato in your shoe - but if you behave well then it's more likely you'll get something sweet, some item of clothing (such as socks) or something to play with. Over the years, these 13 yule lads have become nicer. Some people buy the Christmas tree early in December, while others make a tradition of buying it on the 23rd of December (Þorláksmessa). Christmas Tree Traditions. First of all, "Merry Christmas and a happy New Year" in Icelandic means "Gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár!". Alternatively, some people choose to attend Mass at 18:00, and then have dinner afterwards, but it's also possible to attend a midnight Mass. The first jólasveinn arrives 13 days before Christmas and then the others follow, one each day. The epiphany (or Þrettándinn in Icelandic) on January 6 is the last hurrah of the holidays in Iceland. That could include reading a book, playing a video game or playing a board game - whatever it was you got given. The meat is usually served with potatoes in rich white sauce, green peas, red cabbage and traditional bread, laufabrauð. Perhaps the most known one is Jólagestir Björgvins, where some of the country's finest musicians all come together in one spectacular show with multiple singers, choirs and talented instrumentalists in Harpa Concert Hall in central Reykjavík. Some people like to have it smoked to add flavour and traditionally it was smoked over sheep's dung! Typical Icelandic foods at Christmas include roasted lamb, pork loin and even horse meat. In Iceland, they are called jólasveinar ("yuletide lads"; singular: jólasveinn). One of the main reasons is, of course, Christmas, but since … Christmas season starts when the first Yule Lad comes to town (13 days before Christmas Eve) and finishes when the last one leaves town (Twelfth Night). This obnoxious feline is know as the Christmas Cat. Personally I only have an extended family meet-up party on Boxing Day, so Christmas day normally is spent playing boardgames, watching films, reading books and eating good food. I myself have a habit of making these each year with my sister. These videos are short clips about life in Iceland, culture, behind the scenes. On this day, the festivities of New Year's Eve (bonfires and firework show) are repeated in smaller extend all across Iceland. There are so many books published before Christmas in Iceland, that it's called a Christmas Book Flood. Some people meet up with their extended families on Christmas Day - and some will meet one side of the family on Christmas Day and the other on Boxing Day. Unfortunately though, this fish has a really strong stench - one that sets into your clothes and fills up your house. We fear our Santa Clause(s)! Here are 13 Icelandic Christmas facts and traditions. There’s the Christmas Cat, a lot of great food, a little bit of truly bad food, way too many fireworks, bonfires, a “book flood,” and an endless amount of Santa Clauses (we call them … During Advent there are several entertainment options in Iceland. Traditions and customs described in this section are how Christmas … Christmas in Iceland lasts for 26 days, from the 11th of December until the 6th of January, and Iceland has 13 Santa Clauses or Yule Lads. Whoever gets the almond wins a price, but you can't show the almond until the pudding is finished. The Icelandic Christmas season lasts 26 days. I then have my own tradition of going round my friend's houses with a red Santa hat delivering presents. As the host of the All Things Iceland podcast, she shares about Icelandic culture, history, language and nature. On Boxing Day however, the entire family on my dad's side will meet up, around 50 people in total, and we'll cook dinner together and play games. The concerts around town are often advertised on facebook, where you can look up upcoming events to see what's on each year. Some of the more modern traditions are a bit more diverse, but fun. Candles are a must on advent One of the best Icelandic Christmas traditions, particularly for kids, is the shoe-in-the window tradition. This gets underway 13 days before Christmas, when the Icelandic Yule Lads, who live in the mountains, start coming to town, one per night. Books are a common Christmas gift in Iceland, with dozens of new literature being published before each Christmas. As in every country celebrating Christmas, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The first Santa Claus, or Yule Lad, arrives 13 days before Christmas. If you like them you should be able to find them easily in Iceland in summer. It is, in my opinion, an extremely cute turf house, buil... Sænautasel Turf House in the Highland of Iceland. One of the most tenacious Christmas traditions of the Advent is the Christmas buffet. This day is called Thorlak's Mass - or Þorláksmessa. However, they also leave presents in people's shoes if you leave your shoe in your windowsill at night. Iceland is spectacular in so many ways and Icelandic nature is quite unique with its vast landscape, volcanic activity, geothermal areas, glacier lagoons and sceneries, black sand beaches and spect... People have been asking me where to find lupines in Iceland. See more ideas about iceland food, iceland christmas, scandinavian food. Icelanders celebrate official Christmas at 6pm on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. … What do Icelanders Bake Before Christmas? This is still done in a few places today! This is when many families starting their preparation for the Christmas festivities. The holiday horrors all start thirteen days before Christmas when the Yule Lads start their reign of terror. There are 13 of them in total, all bearing a name that describes their features or characteristics. Because of the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic, many of the ways that Christmas is celebrated might be different this year. Traditionally, one candle is lit each Sunday until four candles are lit on the 24th. Christmas in Iceland is an interesting experience as this country has many old traditions for celebrating Christmas. As a result, Icelandic cemeteries are beautifully lit up during the Christmas Holidays. However, there's also a tradition to eat a specific fish dish this evening, called Skate. It is celebrated with bonfires (lit by children with candles) around which Icelanders gather and sing traditional songs, as well as with fireworks. Christmas Traditions in the Iceland – Þorláksmessa . Every country has its own sets of Christmas traditions and Iceland, of course, has its own. Iceland even has a black Christmas cat that is depicted as an evil cat on the prowl for anybody who is not wearing a piece of newly purchased clothing. Come morning – presto! In Iceland the traditional Christmas meal is roast lamb. So in the beginning the holiday revolved around celebrating the winter solstice … The rice pudding is just like people know it (not to be … Old Icelandic folklore states that every Icelander must receive a new piece of clothing for Christmas or they will find themselves in mortal danger. In Iceland, you don’t just get a visit from Santa Claus on Christmas. Visitors will find many of the Icelandic Christmas traditions amusing and often quite unusual. They mostly revolve around food and books. Find out all about Icelandic Christmas traditions here. Most people start preparing and celebrating on the first day of Advent, 4 Sundays before Christmas Eve. Of course, preparations vary from one household to another, and people celebrate differently - so excuse me for any generalisations! Are you spending Christmas in Iceland? Picture by Dísukökur. So, check out this fun list of Iceland Christmas traditions. And with Christmas come traditions, some fun, some weird, some fun and weird, and every country has their own thing. 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. What is Þorláksmessa all about? Which Traditional Festivals Should You See in Spain? The religiously observant and/or … That means that the 23rd of December takes over … Perhaps the most famous tradition is to do with the Icelandic Santa Clauses. Dómkirkjan church also has a choir Christmas recital with free entry, as well as other music venues around town. Downtown Reykjavík is filled with hustle and bustle, people donning their best coats, rushing to buy a loved one the last gift - but also taking the time to meet up with friends and family for a drink or two at one of the city's many bars. According to legends, the Christmas or Yule Cat is a monstrously huge black cat that only appears at Christmas Eve, when little children are sound asleep, dreaming of the glitter of the Christmas Tree and what marvellous gifts lie under it. Many Icelanders feel that Christmas celebrations mainly revolve around family - and food. Þorláksmessa is celebrated 2 days before Christmas day on 23 rd of December. Boxing Day is also known to be a good day to go out partying downtown, after midnight. Personally, this is my favourite evening of all of Christmas. At 6:00 pm Church bells ring to start the Christmas celebration. There's so much anticipation in the air, I meet up with many friends for a drink downtown and I always end up staying up late decorating a Christmas tree. Iceland's holiday season ends on January 6 with a special celebration of the Twelfth Night. Christmas Traditions & Customs Find out about the history of Christmas Customs and Christmas Traditions. Okay, I am joking, but Santa is very different here in Iceland. One of the best Christmas traditions, particularly for Icelandic kiddies, is the shoe-in-the window tradition. 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. Before they go to sleep, kids take one of their best shoes and leave near an open window. The scenery can be quite amazing as the sun sets into the ocean. You can even send Santa mail by using his very own mailbox. For locals, Christmas in Iceland is a most welcome reprieve from the perennial dark. However, there are also several free entry concerts, often to be found in smaller venues, bars or churches. Thorláksmessa (mass-day of St Þorlákur) is celebrated on December 23. Time-honored classic traditions include the Christmas mass, the lighted window, and the decorations. 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. Terri Mapes specializes in giving first-time Scandinavia visitors practical tips for their travels. I think Reykjavik is a beautiful city all year long, but Christmas time, that is when this little city really shines. On the night preceding December 12th Icelandic children will put their shoe in the window so that the first of the 13 Yule lads ( the Icelandic Santa Clauses) can leave a … This is a thin circular piece of dough, that people sit down and cut patterns into. There may still be some Skate stench in the air, so if you smell something funny - the Skate is a likely culprit! One Santa Claus arrives every day until Christmas Eve, then one by one returns home, until Christmas is officially over on the 6th of January (when people celebrate the end of Christmas, the 13th of Christmas, with bonfires around town). During this time there are a few common traditions that most people adhere to, so I'll go over the main ones. Image – Promote Iceland The further north you go, the less light you can expect. That means that the 23rd of December takes over as Christmas Eve - the last night before Christmas when everyone is buying their last present, and having a few drinks with their friends. Perhaps the most traditional Icelandic things to bake are 'Sara' or cutting out and frying 'laufabrauð' (e. Leaf Bread). Baking may start as early as the first Sunday of Advent (so the family has enough goodies to munch on during the whole month of December), but very often it takes place on one of the Sundays during Advent. My family always gets together at noon to have Ris A L'Amande - a rice pudding with one almond in it. Merry Christmas and a happy new year, or as we say in Icelandic: Gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár! Rice Pudding with candy almond. The history behind Christmas! The main Christmas days in Iceland are the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th of December. The first jólasveinn arrives 13 days before Christmas and then the others follow, one each day. To make the most of this many people enjoy relaxing in the sofa with a full stomach of tasty dinner and reading. This is when elves and trolls come out and celebrate with the Icelanders, dancing and singing. Except if they don‘t celebrate Christmas, but that‘s besides the point. Christmas Celebrations on the 23rd of December- Thorlak's Mass | Þorláksmessa, Christmas Celebrations on the 24th of December- Christmas Eve | Aðfangadagur, Christmas Celebrations on the 25th & 26th of December- Christmas Day & Boxing Day | Jóladagur & Annar í jólum, 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. 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. When it's fried it has a similar texture to an Indian papadum and is consumed with butter - normally as one of the side dishes with smoked lamb during the holiday season. This is not the case in Iceland! Before 18:00, most of the day is spent delivering presents (perhaps even wrapping some last minute), bathing, cooking, laying the table, welcoming family over, nibbling on chocolates and sweets - kids often watching a film while the grown-ups get the dinner ready. Is it true that Icelanders cuddle up with a book and chocolates on Christmas Eve? A special Icelandic custom for children is to put a shoe in the window from December 12 until Christmas Eve. Hangikjöt (Smoked Lamb) is one of the most traditional Icelandic Christmas dishes. 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 Iceland (Jól) starts four Weeks before proper Christmas, which begins on December 24 (Aðfangadagur) and ends thirteen days later on January 6 (Epiphany).. Therefore it should come as no surprise that most households do some sort of baking before Christmas. In Iceland, the Christmas season starts with the advent, four Sundays before Christmas Eve. How many Traditions and Customs started and how they are celebrated. No surprise here, considering that Iceland has nearly three times more sheep than people. Kex Hostel for example has an extensive program throughout December, with free entry to all performances. Expect no fewer than 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses. In fact, in the 18th century, parents in Iceland were officially prohibited from tormenting children with scary stories about the yule lads. Unfortunately, if there are no colourful new clothes among these gifts, the … If they have been good, one of the 13 yule lads leaves a gift—bad children receive a potato or a note from one of the yule lads, explaining an incident of naughty behavior or warning them to do better the next year. , buil... Sænautasel turf house, buil... 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