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Today (6th of January) marks the Epiphany, which for many Christians around the world commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus Christ and His baptism. For Icelanders however, the Epiphany officially marks the end of Christmas and is celebrated in a somewhat pagan fashion.

This uniquely Icelandic celebration is known as Þrettándinn (The Thirteenth) and is celebrated with bonfires, fireworks, family dinners and elf dances. The festival is one of the most heathen of holidays celebrated in Iceland and over the centuries was adopted into the Christmas (Jól) period.

Bonfires for the elves

Photo source: Instagram

Elf bonfires (álfabrennur) are a common part of the holiday and are held all over the country and in many places throughout Reykjavík. According to the old myths, it’s one of the few days when the hidden people (elves) make themselves visible to humans and the Elf King and Queen ride through the countryside visiting different bonfires. There, people dressed in elf and troll costumes sing songs about the elves and dance around large bonfires, often made up of used Christmas trees from nearby homes. Leaving the Christmas tree up past Þrettándinn is viewed as bordering on bad taste!

The video above shows a typical elf bonfire, with singing to the beat of drums.

The video above shows what the celebration was like back in 1972 in the town of Keflavík.

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Replies to This Discussion

Very cool.
Pagan or not, there is some resemblance to my ways.
For example, today, January 6th, Epiphany Day, we have removed any and all Christmas ornaments.

autumn fairy tale. Fantasy woman sitting on tree branch with a barn owl. Forest nymph girl holds a white bird in hands. Portrait of romantic lady in golden dress. Art nature, orange yellow trees - 158516757

Jolly Santa Claus and his elves are preparing gifts for Christmas at home. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! - 158610872

But the elves are always around, night and day, winter and summer and spring and fall!

Girl in a gnome hat and a suit in a green forest sitting on a log. - 137845862


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