Christmas in Iceland is bursting with ancient lore and traditions as it is one of the first places that married old winter solstice festivals with Christian celebrations and from that marriage came a magical holiday full of joy and mystery. Iceland is where you will find 13 Santa Clauses and 26 days of Christmas. The 13 Santas are known as the “Yuletide Lads” and they are more like magical creatures than roly-poly men who love to eat cookies. The Christmas season lasts 26 days as each of the 13 Yuletide Lads takes turns visiting the towns one day at a time; then after Christmas, each lad will leave one after the other, one day at a time. Along with the stunning northern lights, the sky is also lit up with thousands of twinkling lights as each house is decorated to the fullest.

As far as the food is concerned, Christmas puddings are a popular treat and are made with a single magical almond that brings luck to the individual that finds it. Preserved skate and boiled potatoes are traditional fares for Christmas Eve; however there is a wide variety of dishes to choose from in Iceland, just make sure to purchase your ingredients before Christmas Eve as stores close for three days during the holiday. Clothing is a favorite gift to receive during the holiday, especially since many believe that the malicious “Christmas Cat” will eat them if they don’t receive new clothes (apparently this rumor started in the 19th century to deter children from being lazy about their attire).

Even with the biting winter cold, Children will leave their shoes outside their windows from December 12th until Christmas. If they have been good, their shoes will be filled with small gifts. If they have been bad, they will get potatoes. The holiday festivities last until January 6th, when citizens get together, exchange gifts, celebrate with elves and trolls, and set off their own fireworks.


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