You know how Icelanders believe in elves? Well, would you believe that it gets even weirder, and that we have not one, but thirteen Santa Clauses! We do in fact, and unlike the beloved Santa Claus known to most of the western world, who is jolly with red cheeks and lovably large, our thirteen are small, ruffian dirty men who steal skyr, eat our sheep, peak through our windows and slam our doors! To top things off, these splendid lads are actually trolls and have a frightful troll mother called Grýla who eats naughty children. This group is completed by the father leppalúði, who sort of falls in the shadow of the rest, as is known for loafing about whilst doing, well... nothing! The last member of this over the top ensemble is a black cat, called the Christmas cat, that spies on little children, so they will never know if someone is watching! The upside of all this bizarreness, is that if the kids are good, they get a gift from each of these thirteen Santa Clauses, on the thirteen days before Christmas.
Like most other countries that celebrate this holiday we also have the traditional Christmas tree, the Christmas lights and all the other usual trimmings. There is no one traditional Christmas meal parse, it depends a lot on the individual families and the traditions that they have created through the years. Some of the most popular main courses on Christmas eve include lamb, game meats, such as pheasant or venison and some would prefer a Christmas ham.
Most families have their principle Christmas celebration on the 24th, also known as Christmas eve. This is when we have a delicious, over the top dinner followed by the opening of presents. Some families then go to church, but others will stay at home and play board games or sing songs. Of course, traditions within families vary, but this is likely to be the way a typical family will spend their time. Christmas day is usually spent with the entire family, including people outside of the immediate nucleus and it is a tradition to eat salted lamb meat called Hangikjöt, which literally means hanging meat.
The skies over Reykjavík appear to be on fire when the clock strikes twelve on New Years eve. Almost every single household will buy their own fireworks, so the origin of these bright explosions are plentiful, creating a sea of light over the city. Most families will have dinner together before breaking up and heading downtown to party with friends and other relatives. You can bet that most young people will be nursing a hang over on the first day of the new year, but they are likely to be pleased with the fun they experienced during the festivities.
The last official day of Christmas is the 6th of January. On this last day, we say goodbye to the holiday with a great big fire onto which we pile up the dear used Christmas trees. This is a great way to end the holiday season, with family and a lot of light.