It sometimes feels like Iceland was made for Christmas. It’s really no wonder Icelanders love Christmas; our tiny island’s proximity to the Arctic Circle ensures darkness most of the day in late December, and it’s cold enough to make hot chocolate and other warm drinks the only thing you care about. The presents, the lights, the food? Those are the things that get an Icelander out of bed in the morning in December.

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1. They have a Little Christmas shop

Christmas is so great, the only problem is that it only comes once a year. Waiting all that time can be almost unbearable but luckily Icelanders have a secret that helps them cope with all those long Christmas-less months. The Little Christmas Shop is open all year round, catering exclusively to all their Christmassy needs. Christmas enthusiasts can visit spring, summer, winter and fall, but of course, December is still the most exciting month of the year at the holiday boutique. Everything you could possibly need for Christmas is available at The Little Christmas Shop, decorations, gift wrap, candy, as well as a healthy dose of Christmas cheer!

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2. They always dream of a White Christmas

It may come as a surprise, but snow at Christmas in Iceland is never guaranteed. This is important to people in Iceland so there is much speculation during Advent on whether we’ll have a picture perfect Bing Crosby-esque white Christmas. The alternative is the dreaded Red Christmas, as it is known here, where the streets are empty come Christmas day. It’s such a big deal that The Icelandic Meteorological Office has kept track of the amount of snow on Christmas morning since 1921 and the numbers are available on their website.

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3. They put up so many Christmas lights!

You’ve probably heard about the midnight sun in Iceland. Basically, summer in Iceland is one endless day. That’s great and all, but it also means that winter in Iceland is one long night, only briefly interrupted by a few hours of sunlight. To combat this, Icelanders put up a lot of Christmas lights, and I mean A LOT. The war on darkness starts in early November and stretches long into January. Twinkly lights in every colour imaginable cover every surface, inside and out, making the city glitter and shine. Luckily, we have all this green energy to keep the lights on.

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4. They have thirteen days of Christmas!

There are probably a lot of people out there, of all ages, that wish Christmas could last forever. Icelanders must have thought this too at some point, and decided to do something about it, because in Iceland, Christmas lasts for 13 days. Something similar must have happened with Santa Claus, one isn’t enough for Icelanders, instead, there are thirteen Yule Lads that bring small gifts to small children. In Iceland, more is more when it comes to Christmas!

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5. They just can’t wait!

Christmas is so great, it really seems unnecessary to keep people waiting until Christmas morning. The good people of Iceland think so at least. At precisely 6 pm, Christmas Eve, families all around the country either sit down to a Christmas feast, followed by opening presents and vowing never to eat again, or sit down in church followed by the aforementioned activities. Why 6 pm you might ask? Following a tradition inherited from the Jewish faith, the Christian liturgical day actually starts at sunset, not at midnight. Since the invention of the clock they settled the exact time at 6 pm. That means technically, 6 pm on Christmas Eve marks the beginning of Christmas day, so technically it’s allowed to start celebrating.

Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir
Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir
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