The Icelandic celebration of elven culture
Do Icelandic people celebrate the Epiphany?
On January 6th, the Spanish celebrate the Day of the Three Kings. It’s an ode to Three Wise Men that found baby Jesus and brought him some gifts. In other parts of the world this day has other names, the Epiphany being one of them.
In Scandinavia, the Epiphany is recognized but is not a big holiday. Except in my home country, Iceland, but we don’t celebrate the Three Wise Men, or baby Jesus. It’s a day to celebrate the mystical creatures that live among us, the elves, trolls and other hidden beings. On this day we show respect for their existence and we party together! This day is called “the Thirteenth” (Þrettándinn in Icelandic) because it is 13 days after Christmas.
Public celebrations are held outdoors (in the freezing cold) where we have big bonfires. Around the fire we sing and dance, play dress up and shoot fireworks. Trolls and elves come and join us, in fact the elve king and queen are the guests of honour.
In Icelandic tradition there are 13 Yule lads (Santa-clauses), mischievous fellas that live in the mountains all year around and just come to town some days before Christmas to tease people….and also to bring some gifts. The Yule lads also come to the Thirteenth festivities and are sure to make some noise. After that day they go back to the mountains and we don’t see them until the following Christmas. Nor do we meet the elves and trolls for a long time, next opportunity for an encounter with them is on Midsummer night.
creator of Nú Ninja