In Akraneshas been snowinga lotthe last few daysand everything outside is white. Children lovesthe snowand prefer to play outside and have a wonderful time. Redcheeksandjoycharacterizeour childrenthese days.
Preparations for Christmas start in
the beginning of December when most people decorate their houses and gardens
with some Christmas lights. Most people use December for other preparations for
the festivities, such as baking an assortments of cookies which are consumed
over the holidays.
Christmas itself is celebrated 24, 25
and 26 of December but on the 23rd many celanders eat fermented skate (a fish)
with potatoes and melted sheep fat. It smells very bad but many find it delicious
althoug there are many who will never eat it.
Christmas begin at 6 o‘clock at
Christmas Eve, December 24th. The custom in most families is to eat dinner and
then open the Christmas presents. Some go to Christmas mass which begins at 6
o‘clock and then eat dinner, but there are always fewer and fewer who do this.
Most people get several parcels for Christmas.
There are gifts from parents, siblings and grandparents, and also from cousins,
uncles and aunts. It is very common for children to recieve 10 gifts and some
most common festivity food eaten at Christmas is smoked lamb, smoked ham or
ptarmigan ( a game bird from the grouse family, Lagopus). In recent years
turkey has made its way to the Christmas dinner table and the main reason is
that the ptarmigan has declined in numbers and fewer people go ptarmigan
hunting. For dessert many enjoy ris à
l'amande (rice pudding) with an almond hidden in the bowl and the lucky one who
gets the almond on his plate is rewarded with a small gift. The
Icelandic yule lads (an equivalent for santa Claus) are 13 brothers living in
the mountains and before Christams they come down from the mountains one by one.
The first one arrives 12 December and tha last one visits 24 December. Children
put their shoes in their windows in the evening of 11 December and the yule
ladsbring small presents which they
place in the shoes. The children must take care to behave or they risk recieving
an old potato from the yule lad visiting the following night. They leave for
the mountains after christmas, one by one and the last ones leaves on January
5th. Every yule lad has his own name and his uniqe characteristics. In the
olden days they were quite the pranksters and their mother, who wasa troll called Gryla, had a reputation for
eating naughty children. Her husband is Leppaludi and together they had the
Christmas cat, a black cat monster who according to legend ate children that
had not recieved any new clothes.
Following are the Yule lads‘ names, their
„speciality“, arrival date and the date they leave for home.
Stekkjarstaur (Sheep-Cote Clod), harasses
sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. Arrives December 12, leaves December
Giljagaur (Gully Gawk), hides in
gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk. Arrives
December 13, leaves December 26
Stúfur (Stubby) is abnormally short.
Steals pans to eat the crust left on them. Arrives December, leaves 14 December
Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker) steals
Þvörur (a type of a wooden spoon with a long handle - I. þvara, ) to lick. Is
extremely thin due to malnutrition. Arrives December 15, leaves December 28
Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper) steals
leftovers from pots. Arrives December 16, leaves December 29
Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker) hides under
people‘s beds waiting for someone to put down their 'askur' (a type of bowl
with a lid used instead of dishes), which he then steals. Arrives December 17,
leaves December 30.
Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer) likes to
slam doors, especially during the night. Arrives December 18, leaves December
Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler). A Yule Lad
with an affinity for skyr. Arrives December 19, leaves January 1
Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper) would
hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked. Arrives
December 20, leaves January 2.
Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper) is a voyeur who would look through windows in
search of things to steal. Arrives December 21, leaves January 3.
Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer) has an
abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate
laufabrauð (Leaf bread = a thin type of decorated bread). Arrives December 22,
Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook) uses a hook to
steal meat. Arrives December 23, leaves January 5.
Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) follows
children around in order to steal their candles (which in those days were made
of tallow and thus edible). ArrivesDecember 24, leaves January 6.