Christmas in Iceland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jól (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈjoːul̥]) is the term used for the Christmas holiday season in Iceland and the Faroe Islands and was originally an Old Norse religious festival, also called Yule.

Whereas the start of jól proper is announced by the chiming of church bells throughout the country in the afternoon of 24 December, it is more accurate to describe the season six week event, consisting of seven key phases and dates: Aðventa (advent, the four Sundays preceding jól), aðfangadagskvöld (Yule eve), jóladagur (Yule day), annar í jólum (second in Yule/e. boxing day), gamlársdagur (old years day), nýársdagur (New Year's Day) and þrettándinn (the thirteenth, and final day of the season).

The main event in Iceland, is Christmas Eve (aðfangadagskvöld), when the main Yule meal is served and gifts are exchanged.


13 days before 24 December, the Yule lads (jólasveinar in Icelandic) start arriving into the towns to give children that have behaved well small gifts in a shoe that has been placed by the window.


On Yule Eve, traditional dishes are served, based on regional differences in cuisine and accessibility. The most popular dishes are smoked lamb, smoked ham or ptarmigan with turkey, reindeer and beef becoming more popular in recent years.


On 6 January, Icelanders celebrate þrettándinn (the thirteenth of jól), or Epiphany Day. Communal bonfires are held where fireworks are light, elves arrive and dance with the people.

See also[edit]