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Icelanders Bid Farewell to Christmas

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Icelanders Bid Farewell to Christmas

New Year's Eve in Reykjavík

Photo: Zoë Robert.

January 6 is known as Þrettándinn or ‘the Thirteenth’ in Iceland. According to the Icelandic calendar, it marks the 13th 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.

Bonfires and fireworks shows will be held around Iceland today. For a list of bonfires in Reykjavík, click here.

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.

Many save some of the fireworks they bought before New Year’s Eve for Þrettándinn.

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 Þrettándinn 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 skins and walking on dry land on this magical night.

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