Seven things that make Christmas in Iceland a little different.
1. The Jólasveinn is the Icelandic version of Father Christmas. But not really. First of all, there are thirteen of them (we guess you could call them Brothers Christmas). And they come to town one by one on the days before Christmas to do things the other guy would never do — like lick your cutlery, peek through windows, harass your sheep, eat your skyr, steal your candles and smoked sausages, and probably fondle your wife.
Known in English as “Yule Lads” (possibly the lamest gang name in history), the jólasveinar have mellowed out a bit over the years — they even seem to have signed some sort of sponsorship contract with the Coca-Cola Company. But it’s still pretty disturbing when you think about it. More on our Bad Santas.
2. “The Shoe.” Starting 13 days before Christmas, children put a shoe in their window at night. If they have misbehaved that day, they get a potato, but if they’ve been good, they get something that requires batteries. Think of it as a jólasveinar-managed performance-related rewards system.
3. Jólakötturinn, the Christmas cat, apparently makes bad things happen to you (i.e. eats you) if you don’t buy yourself some new clothes for Christmas. Sounds to us like the fashion industry’s marketing ploys are getting increasingly desperate.
4. Skötuveisla usually happens on Þorláksmessa, the 23rd of December. It involves a surprising number of seemingly normal people eating what is known as “kæst Skata”, which tastes about as good as it sounds. More about putrid fish for beginners.
5. Christmas Eve is the really big day. No putrid fish, just nice stuff to eat and then the presents. Oh, and we drink this stuff.
6. Jólaboð are the parties that pretty much fill up the period from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve, where you get to meet the members of your family that you’ve managed to avoid the rest of the year.
7. New Year’s Eve is when we shoot up fireworks. A lot of them.
So, do you feel up for it? Click here to book a flight to Iceland for Christmas.