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Þrettándinn – The Last Day of Christmas in Iceland

Updated: May 27, 2020

Today is the end of the Christmas season in Iceland and one of the four Icelandic holidays that have a special connection to Huldufólk (hidden people). The Christmas season in Iceland lasts thirteen days and today, the final day, is called Þrettándinn or ‘’The Thirteenth’’.

There are some supernatural events that happen today such as cows that can talk. However, do not try to talk to them or even listen to them because it will drive humans insane. Another legend says that seals can become human and they will be walking around on the land. The last one of the thirteen Jólasveinar (Yule Lads) return to their homes in the mountain caves. Watch out!! The elves and the trolls will be trying to get more people to join them in their magical land. The Elf Kings and Elf Queens will be singing and dancing and many magical happenings will take place on this mystic night.

Álfaskólinn is the Icelandic Elf School that teaches Icelandic folklore and stories about the hidden people. You can go on an Elf Tour in the town of Hafnarfjörður, which is the capital of the huldufólk. The University of Iceland in Reykjavík has a Folklore Department and the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies has preserved and studied medieval manuscripts and Icelandic Sagas and teaches folklore. There have been many books written about Icelandic folklore and I have read some of them. It would be very interesting to take part in these programs, tours, and read more of the books and articles written by all these folklorists!

There will be many celebrations today on January 6 (which is also Epiphany – a complex Christian holiday that celebrates the Wise Men coming to see the newborn baby Jesus and his christening.) The Christmas decorations are taken down immediately after January 6th and this is the last night that the beautiful Christmas lights will be burning bright.

So, happy Þrettándinn, Iceland. Best wishes tonight when you celebrate with family dinners, elf bonfires (álfabrennur), parades, and the “burning up of Christmas” on this last night of the Christmas season.

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