The longest night of the year was last night, the winter solstice beginning at nightfall yesterday, at 3:30 pm in Reykjavík, and ending at sunrise at 11:23 am today. Ásatrúarfélagið, followers of the old Norse religion, will celebrate the event tonight.From a previous pagan ceremony. Photo copyright Icelandic Photo Agency.
The capital is in the southwestern part of the country and sees only four hours of daylight at the winter solstice.
On Iceland’s northernmost inhabited island Grímsey, which lies on the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t rise at all at this time of year. However, although islanders can’t see the sun, they do enjoy two hours and 15 minutes of daylight.
Chieftain of Kjalarnes Jóhanna Harðardóttir explained in an interview on RÚV’s Rás 2 radio program Síðdegisútvarpið yesterday that the Yule is an ancient heathen festival of light where the return of the sun is celebrated.
Their celebration, jólablót, begins at 6 pm in Öskjuhlíð near the Perlan landmark building in Reykjavík and will be followed with a feast at Versalir on Hallveigarstígur, starting at 7:30 pm.
Events include the children’s festival of lights, a performance by Ingó the sorcerer, lottery for children and adults, Yule story and good music, as stated on asatru.is.
Members of Ásatrúarfélagið have increased from 280 in 1998 to 2,200 this year. The association has acquired a lot in Öskjuhlíð and intends to construct a temple there—the first pagan temple to rise in the Nordic countries in more than a millennium, ruv.is reports.
Click here to watch a video of a pagan ceremony.
Click here to learn about our custom made photo book Iceland 2012 with the best pictures of the year.