Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Icelandic Christmas

For me, today is special for couple of reasons. Not only do two of my dear friends have their birthdays today, December 12th. But our first Santa arrived tonight. Yes! You read that correctly, first Santa. We have 13 in total. And to me, the arrival of the first Santa really tells me that Christmas is approaching fast!

There are few things that I - and most of Icelanders - do that mark the coming of Christmas. First we have a day candle which we light every day and burn one day off. The Children have a chocolate Advent calander where they open one window a day and get a little piece of chocolate in some Christmas form. We have an Advent wreath with four candles. The first candle being lit four Sundays before Christmas, the 2nd and 1st candle lit the 3rd Sunday before Christmas and so forth. And then the arrival of the 13 Santa's.

In this layout of mine you can see a very typical day candle and my Advent wreath. I made that wreath back in 2006 and am always so happy with it, it contains little apples and little pine cones. The Advent candles are typically placed on a circular wreath representing eternity. Each of the candles represent a preperation in the coming of Jesus. The first candle is called the Prophecy Candle; the second one is called the Bethlehem Candle; the third candle is called the Shepherds Candle and the fourth and last candle is called Angels Candle.

For this LO I used a gorgeous new kit by Memory Clips by Ramona, called Scrap Your Story -- December.

The Icelandic jólasveinar or Santa's originate in Icelandic folklore. They are often called Yule Lads. Originally they were not kind hearted and were generally feared. Through time they have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus.

The oldest stories of the Santa's show them as being mischievous, and sometimes criminal individuals who would steal and wreak havoc on the people. They all hold names that descripe their mischiefs. They live up in the mountains with their mother - Grýla an ugly beast who liked to eat children -, father - Leppalúði - and their Yule cat which which very big and ugly and liked to eat children if they didn't get any new clothing on Christmas. The Santa's would come down on ski's, one by one they would creap into town and do what they did best. The first one arriving on December 12th and going home on December 25th, the 2nd one arriving on December 13th and leaving on December 26th. They would arrive one by one until the last one arrives on Christmas Eve and leaving on January 6th which marks the 13th day of Christmas and closes the Christmas festivities. If you are interested reading an old poem (in English) about the Santa's check this here out.

Today, however, the Santa's are all night lads who decend into town the night before their arrival day leaving children little precents. Children leave their shoes on the window ledge and every morning from the morning of the 12th till the 24th there is a small precent from Santa waiting for them. It can be anything from a tangerine, to pieces of candy or a little toy. Generally, these gifts are small and just for fun. In the case of my children they are unable to sleep so their shoes are left in the living room window. Occationally, they'll perform little michiefs such as Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) who arrives last on December 24th, but he likes to ruffle upp candles in the house before leaving, and sometimes taking one or two with him. Children often leave him little candles  in order to try to deter him from stealing the big ones in the house.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year, or like we say it:
Gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár.

Today's Freebie:

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marsie55 said...

Thank you for todays download, and for the information about your traditions!!

Crystalnva said...

WoW its great to learn of holiday traditions ....Your kids sound very smart to leave lil candles...hehehe THANK YOU ;~} for todays dl....

Dolores said...

Thanks for sharing about Icelandic traditions, Hildur! Another nice DL today, too...thanks!

Karen said...

It was very interesting to hear about the Icelandic Santas! Thank you for sharing.
Karen from Moscow

Suzanne said...

This was so fun to learn about. I live in the US but am of Icelandic descent. I just got a facebook post from an Icelandic cousin telling me about the first "jólasveinn". Her youngest daughter received a potato in her shoe because that's what happens when the kids are misbehaving. So funny!! Thanks!!

Daydreamer said...

thank you