Christmas in Iceland is in many ways similar to Christmas in the United States or Eourope, except Icelanders celebrate 13 days of Christmas. The period starts on December 24 and ends on January 6, which is when all Christmas decorations are removed from streets and houses. This tradition is believed to extend back to the 4th and 5th centuries in Europe where the birth of Christ was celebrated on December 25th and his christening and the three wise men were celebrated on January 6.
Icelanders have not one, but thirteen Santas, or Yule Lads. These lads are not related to Santa Claus in any way. They are descendants of trolls and were originally used to scare children. In the last century, however, they have become a lot friendlier.
Biggest party night of the whole year
New Year's Eve is probably the biggest party night of the whole year. The most distinguishing characteristic of an Icelandic New Year's Eve are the fireworks. Everyone buys fireworks and on this night everyone is allowed to light them (we wonder if afterwards there's big demand for four-fingered gloves). Fireworks explode all night long, reaching the high point at midnight, when the sky lights up for a few minutes as the fire trucks and harbored ships ring their bells and blow their horns to welcome the new year. It is certainly the grandest display of fireworks you will ever see. After midnight, people gather either downtown to go clubbing or at parties where they drink the night away, often until the early hours of the morning.
It's not too late to book your trip north
Learn more about Christmas in Iceland