Get ready to experience a Christmas unlike any other! Iceland, a country known for its stunning landscapes, hot springs, and Northern Lights. The country boasts a quirky and magical festive season that’s sure to enchant travelers from all over the world and here is the ultimate guide to Christmas in Iceland that will make it memorable.
The land of ice and fire has a reputation for being the perfect winter destination, and what holiday falls in the winter? Christmas! So you already suspect that Iceland would have something special about Christmas. With its unique traditions and culture, Iceland offers a winter wonderland like no other.
From the peculiar Yule Lads to the deliciously strange Christmas cuisine, Iceland’s holiday traditions are like a bizarre winter wonderland that will make your heart light up like a Christmas tree.
In this ultimate traveler’s guide to Christmas in Iceland, we’ll explore the unique customs, rituals, and celebrations during this wonderful time of the year. There’s so much to experience in Iceland during the holidays.
So, if you’re planning to escape to a winter wonderland this year, buckle up and read our ultimate guide to Christmas in Iceland. We’ll take you on a festive journey, from Reykjavik’s twinkling lights to the countryside’s snowy landscapes, giving you a glimpse of what to expect during the most magical time of the year in Iceland.
Christmas Traditions in Iceland
As a country steeped in ancient folklore and mythology, Iceland celebrates the festive season with a unique and enchanting flavor that will ignite your imagination. Hence, there are so many traditions that make Iceland’s Christmas season special. The Yule Lads and the Christmas Cat are two of the most curious and intriguing characters of Iceland’s most beloved Christmas traditions. Let’s tell you about them.
One of the most curious Icelandic Christmas traditions centers around “The Yule Lads” or “Jólasveinar” in Icelandic. They are a group of 13 mischievous trolls, or you can think of them as 13 Santas. These mischievous creatures are said to descend from the mountains one by one in the 13 nights leading up to Christmas Eve. Each Yule Lad has a unique name and personality, ranging from Candle Beggar (who steals candles) to Pot Licker (who steals leftover food from pots) to Sausage Swiper (who steals sausages), and even DoorSlammer (who likes to slam doors in the middle of the night). They’re not necessarily malicious, but they love to cause trouble and scare children.
There’s even a poem that parents read to their children each night to help them keep track of which Yule Lad is coming next. The poem tells tales of each Lad’s arrival and how they wreak havoc around the house. As soon as kids hear the poem, they rush to bed with excitement – not fear. After all, the Yule Lads are known for leaving small gifts in children’s shoes if they’re well-behaved.
This tradition is unusual, but it’s a beloved part of Icelandic culture. Around the holiday season, you might run into Yule Lad-themed items in stores – like decorations, ornaments, and even candy. It’s not uncommon to see adults wearing Yule Lad hats and shirts.
Another mischievous Icelandic Christmas folklore is the Christmas Cat or “Jólakötturinn.” It roams around on Christmas Eve. This feline will be looking for anyone who hasn’t received new clothes before Christmas, and if you’re unlucky enough to be caught, you’ll become its prey. So be sure to wear your best attire on Christmas Day.
In addition to these playful creatures, there are plenty of other rituals and customs that Icelanders hold dear during Christmas. Candle-making is also a popular tradition in Iceland, where families gather together to make “Jóla ljós.” These are Christmas candles adorned with beautiful ornaments and decorations, and they are lit on Christmas Eve to create a cozy and warm atmosphere.
What Christmas Eve traditions would be complete without a festive feast? In Iceland, it’s customary to eat a traditional meal of smoked lamb, boiled potatoes, and béchamel sauce, followed by a dessert of rice pudding with a hidden almond. The person who finds the almond gets rewarded with a special prize! Additionally, traditional foods like hangikjot and laufabraud (thin crispy bread) are consumed during the holiday season.
Finally, as midnight approaches, Icelanders take to the streets to light fireworks and celebrate the arrival of Christmas Day. The sky is filled with a kaleidoscope of colors,
and the air is electric with excitement as people watch the magnificent display. Many people also attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, which is a religious and communal event.
If you’re lucky enough to spend Christmas in Iceland, know that you’re in for a treat. Between the dazzling Northern Lights, cosy sweater weather, and enchanting holiday traditions, it’s a truly special time to be in this incredible country.
Gift Ideas For Christmas In Iceland
What’s Christmas without the cheer that gifts bring? Icelandic Christmas traditions are unique, and so are the gifts you can buy during Christmas in Iceland. Here are some unique Icelandic gifts to buy during Christmas in Iceland:
- Icelandic Wool Sweaters: These cozy wool sweaters are made with local Icelandic yarn and are warm and stylish. You can find them in various designs and patterns inspired by Icelandic nature and
- Lopapeysa Kit: If you are a knitting enthusiast, you can buy a lopapeysa kit that includes Icelandic wool yarn, instructions, and patterns to create your Icelandic
- Icelandic Chocolate: Icelandic chocolate is made with high-quality ingredients like Icelandic milk and You can find various flavors like sea salt, licorice, and berries.
- Icelandic Skyr: Skyr is a traditional Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt but has a creamier texture and high protein You can find various flavors like plain, berry, and vanilla.
- Icelandic Whiskey: If you are a whiskey lover, you can try Icelandic whiskeys like Flóki, made with Icelandic barley and a unique distilling
Fun Winter Activities In Iceland During Christmas
There are a myriad of activities you can enjoy in winter when you are in Iceland. From Northern Lights hunting to snowmobiling, ice skating, skiing, and snowboarding- there’s something for everyone. Grab your warmest clothes, and let’s explore the best winter activities in Iceland during Christmas.
Northern Lights Hunting
In the winter, the magic of the Northern Lights comes alive in the clear, crisp Icelandic sky. It’s one of the most remarkable natural phenomena in the world and a must-see if you’re in Iceland during Christmas.
Imagine whisking through a winter wonderland with an adrenaline rush. That’s what snowmobiling feels like in Iceland. Snowmobiling is accessible across the island, and you can choose from guided tours or rent a snowmobile for the day.
Ice Skating is a classic winter activity, and there are outdoor skating rinks across Reykjavik. Skating on a frozen lake under the northern lights is a pure delight. Make sure to try ice skating in Reykjavik’s City Hall, which proudly boasts one of the most beautiful outdoor skating rinks in the world.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Iceland is known for its breathtaking ski resorts that cater both to everyone. Enjoy the thrills as you take in the natural beauty of Iceland on your ski or snowboard. Glide through the black diamond slopes for a wholesome experience.
Explore an Ice Cave
One of the most exciting activities of the winter season is exploring the breathtaking Icelandic ice caves. These crystal-clear caves are a true gift of nature. They are located beneath glaciers. You can experience the natural blue lights shimmering within the ice walls. It’s like something straight out of a Disney movie.
The famous waterfalls in Iceland become even more captivating in the winter. The winter snow and ice add another dimension to the falls, making them an enchanted paradise.
Some of the best waterfalls to visit during the winter season include the Skogafoss, Gullfoss, and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls.
Soak in a Hot Spring:
A visit to a hot spring during winter can be a thrilling experience. The cosy warm water surrounded by snow creates a dreamy, unmatched atmosphere. The most famous and preferred spot is the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa with warm, soothing, milky-blue water perfect for soaking chilled bones.
Visit the Black Sand Beach:
Reynisfjara, the world’s most beautiful black sand beach, is Iceland’s most visited natural attraction, even during winter. Visitors, during winter, can witness the enthralling view of the raging waves crashing against the basalt cliffs. Resembling a dramatic volcanic landscape with its crystalline ice formations and towering glaciers, this beach is not just any ordinary beach but a wonderland to be explored.
Enjoyed Our Guide To Christmas In iceland?
Many often misrepresent Iceland in the winter, usually because of the cold, but as you can now see, it is a lot more fun. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good cup of chocolate, but the wintertime is like winning the weather jackpot, in our opinion.
In conclusion, Iceland is the perfect destination to celebrate the holidays, with fascinating customs, breathtaking displays, and lively celebrations. While wishing everyone Happy Holidays this year, don’t forget to say it in Icelandic: Gleðileg Jól!