Click on the picture to watch an audio slideshow of a bonfire and fireworks display traditionally held on January 6, a.k.a. Threttándinn, the thirteenth and last day of Christmas, according to the Icelandic calendar. On this magical night supernatural beings roam free and cows speak in human tongue.
Narration and photos by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.
January 6 is known as Threttándinn or “The Thirteenth” in Iceland. According to the Icelandic calendar, it marks the thirteenth and last day of Christmas—the first being Christmas Day—and also the day when the last of the 13 Yule Lad brothers, who come down from the mountains 13 days before Christmas, returns to his cave.
These pictures were taken at the old farm Gufunes in the Reykjavík suburb of Grafarvogur. The bonfire celebrations began at 5 pm with a march of people holding torches, led by the elf king and queen.
Yule Lads sang and entertained the crowd. Some children and adults dressed for the occasion as santas, trolls, elves and the ogress Grýla. Children were given sparklers, torches and flares and some blew up a few fireworks of their own while waiting for the fireworks show to begin.
According to legend, the last day of Christmas is just as magical as the last day of the year. On this day supernatural beings, like elves and trolls, emerge from their hidden habitats and try to lure humans into their world.
Cows are also known to acquire supernatural powers on Threttándinn and speak in human tongue. But beware; those who try to listen to their discussions in the cow shed will lose their mind! Other folk stories tell the tales of seals shedding their skin and walking on dry land on this magical night.
In Christianity, the wise men are paid homage to on January 6.
The purpose of the bonfire and the fireworks is to metaphorically “burn up Christmas” and mark the end of the festive season. People gather at bonfires across the country to bid the holidays farewell. The day after, all schools and work places reopen, though some may have returned to work and school the previous week.
At 6 pm the first firework of the show exploded, painting the black canvas of the Icelandic winter sky in red, blue, green and yellow. In the distance other explosions could be spotted, originating from other bonfires, or private homes.
Many save some of the fireworks they bought before New Year’s Eve for Threttándinn to say their own private explosive goodbye to Christmas.
ESA – email@example.com