Iceland, located in Northern Europe, has a well-known reputation regarding the Holiday Season. The reputation comes from the transformation of the cities, turning them into winter wonderlands and changing the themes of the stores, especially the marketplace in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. During the Winter Season, the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) shines over Reykjavik and on News Year’s Eve, firework laws are uplifted, so everyone can use fireworks, and the firework shoe last six hours. In the middle of Reykjavik, lies an Ice Rink. Hot Springs also appear in the country where visitors can bathe and whale watching is common at the docks, same as snowmobile tours around the country.
In Iceland, Christmas lasts 26 Days full of festivals and events to participate in. Daylights usually last 4 hours. Instead of one Santa Claus, Iceland has thirteen different holiday figures, each being known as Yule Lads with a different personality. Some of their personalities range from being mere pranksters to monsters who are said to eat children. The parents of the 13 lads consist of a giantess named Grýla cooks unruly kids in a big pot because she has a taste for flesh and Leppalúði, her husband, spends most of their time at home in their cave. The Yule Cat, also known as Jólakötturinn, is a large, ferocious cat that is said to prowl the icy countryside around Christmastime and eat anyone who hasn’t gotten any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve. One Yule Lad comes and stays for each day until 13 days pass and they all would return to the mountains.
Food and Tradition
In Iceland, desserts are significant Christmas dishes and have a wide variety of traditional foods. Examples are the laufabraud, skate, and rice pudding. The “Sara” is one of Iceland’s most popular Christmas desserts. This dessert bears Sarah Bernhardt’s name, a well-known French actress. It’s a chocolate-dipped almond macaroon with a biscuit base and cream filling. One of the most popular foods is “hangikjot,” or smoked lamb. Horse manure is used to smoke it, and it tastes strong and salty. It is frequently served with laufabraud, peas, red cabbage, and “uppstufu,” a white potato sauce similar to the bechamel sauce. It is filled with a holiday beverage called “jolaol,” which is a mix of malt and an Appelsin-like fizzy orange soda. Another food is Yule logs which is a swiss roll cake and buttercream with decorations (holly, leaves, mushrooms) The flavors are usually chocolate or mocha.
There are many quaint cafes in Reykjavik where you may have a cup of coffee while playing cards or listening to live music. A visit to a bookstore is also important because Icelanders love to give books as Christmas presents. People also create a wreath out of fir tree branches, leaves, berries, pine cones, and four candles. The first candle should be lit on the first Sunday of Advent. Light the first and second candles on the second Sunday, and so on.