Christmas means back to basics for me.
I usually go to quite length to make the christmas for my boys that I want them to remember basically because I’m so fond of my own christmas childhood memories.
The christmas traditions in Iceland are quite strong, like they probably are in most other countries. But I think that being on an isolated island for so long (it was only post-WWI that Iceland in general got connected to the world) has made traditions that sound really weird. Like our 13 Santa Clauses or the icelandic Yule Lads, each one of them with their own name and characteristics. They come one by one on the nights before christmas, the first one on the 12th of december. The kids place one of their shoe in the window and in the morning they find a special treat, if they’ve behaved good. There are rumours that naughty children only found a potatoe in their shoe in the morning, not a piece of chocolate or some small toy, but i’ve never experienced that myself 🙂
They used to be naughty themselves, their characteristics are connected to thievery and teasing and even voyeurism but today they are mostly silly and funny lads who now have a more international appearance, they show up in christmas parties in the red uniform with white beard and black boots.
After christmas they go home, one by one each day untill Jan. 6th when we claim that christmas is officially over this season.
These are drawings that I made a few years back, showing six of the thirteen lads. More info on them here if you’re interested.
My son Emil with a friendly Yule Lad in Dimmuborgir Iceland. It’s one of the rare places that they can be seen in their traditional uniform, which consists mostly of woolen mittens, sweaters, pants and leather shoes. Dimmuborgir is a unique place with amazing rock formation, great to hike through during summer but very scary on cold winter nights.