OT Icelandic christmas

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Iceland is full of old traditions concerning the Christmas period and some of them are native to Iceland. For example there are no fewer than 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses, called jólasfveinar (Yuletide Lads; singular : jólasveinn). Their parents are trolls and their names are Grýla, a mean old woman who drags off naughty children and cooks them, and the husband Leppalúði who is not as mean. The origin of the Icelandic jolasveinnar is centuries old. Each has its own name character and role. Today their function is to come to town bearing gifts, candy, and do what they are best known for - pranks. The first jólasveinn arrives 13 days before Christmas and then the others follow, one each day. After Christmas they also leave one by one. The Christmas season lasts 26 days.

A special Icelandic custom is to put a shoe in the window during the Christmas season. Beginning on Dec 12th and last until Christmas, children put their best shoe in the window before going to sleep and if they have been good, a jólasveinn leaves them a gift in their shoe. If they have been bad, they only get a potato.

Thorláksmessa (the mass day of St. Þorlákur) is celebrated on December 23. Shops are open until 23:30 and then close for three days during Christmas. Man attend midnight mass. The main Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. That is when gifts are exchanged.

Another Chritmas tradition in Iceland is that people and communites make up for the short days and long nights by lighting up the community with thousands of Christmas lights. Usually every house and apartment is decorated with some sort of Christmas lights.

New Years Eve is always a special celebration in Iceland when thousands of people attend community bonfires and exchange visits. At midnight he sky llights up with fireworks when almost every home Iceland will produce its own fireworks show.

The Christmas season ends on January 6, with a special celebration of the Twelfth Night (þréttandinn, the Thirteenth Day). This is when elves and trolls come out and celebrate with the people, dancing and singing. The festivities of New Year´s Eve are repeated in a smaller way with bonfires and fireworks.

More to come on each of the Yule Lads and their roles.

Wow, thanks for the interesting culture/history lesson. I'll be sure to put my shoe in the window before bed tonight! Though something tells me it will be empty in the morning.
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