This month’s blog features some of Iceland’s mysterious and magical folklore, including everything from elves, trolls, and witchcraft. With this blog you will be able to impress your friends and family with your knowledge of Icelandic folklore during your long road trips exploring our magnificent country of fire and ice.
The Hidden People
Elves, as you may have guessed, are also known as The Hidden People. One story of how the elves were first created says: in the time of Adam and Eve, Eve was expecting her creator to come for a visit. While Eve was washing her children, she realized God was at her door earlier than she had expected Him. Being ashamed of not being able to wash all of her children before his arrival, she hid the remaining children. God, of course, knowing everything punished her by saying if she was hiding them from Him, he would hide them from the world. This is how the Elves became to be known as The Hidden People.
Most native Icelander’s still believe in Elves and do so by respecting the Elves’ homes and privacy. Many teach their children early on not to tease or torment the Elves by throwing or knocking on rocks. A common reason for why Icelander’s still believe in elves is, it is said to bring bad luck not to believe in them.
Construction sites have had to relocate their plans for streets, homes, and company buildings due to the location on which they planned to have excavated being elf territory. Seeing as they are The Hidden People, their homes are often hidden as well. There is no way to know what is an elf home and what isn’t. The easiest way to find out, but also the most expensive way, is to start construction. The Elves will quickly let you know you are disturbing them when numerous heavy machinery fails or if construction workers start having freak accidents. This is when you know it is time to pack up, as you are obviously disturbing the Elves. Continued construction would only bring on more bad luck.
If you are interested in visiting an area known for The Hidden People, in the town of Hafnafjörður you can visit the Elf Garden in the park Hellisgerði.
It is said that elves will allow themselves to be seen only twice a year: New Year’s Eve and on Midsummer Night. If you are to a cross road on Midsummer Night, the Elves will come at you from all directions and try to seduce you (be careful they are quite good looking, or so we are told). If they succeed, you will become insane; however, if they do not succeed, they will reward you with gifts.
Icelandic folklore often also revolves around our famous Icelandic trolls. After all, the mother and father of our Icelandic Yule Lad’s are trolls. You can read all about the 13 Yule Lad’s and their parents HERE.
Like the Hidden People, trolls also like to remain unseen, living mostly in the mountains of the highlands of Iceland. Icelandic trolls are nocturnal creatures, which is why they are commonly not seen by humans. However, if they are not careful and home by sunrise they meet their unfortunate fate and turn to stone. All over the country of Iceland you can spot a few of the unfortunate trolls that did not make it home. The most famous Icelandic trolls are located in the southern region of Iceland in the town of Vík. The Reynisdrangar rock formation tells the famous story of two stubborn trolls who were trying to drag a shipwreck to shore before sunrise. Seeing as they are now rock formations, we can assume they met their fate when the first rays of light from sunrise hit.
Icelandic folklore is also full of stories of Icelandic witchcraft. We even have a Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, located in the Westfjords of Iceland in a town called Hólmavík. In the museum you can find items from famous Icelandic folklore stories including the necropants belonging to the witch known as Katla. Katla is said to have owned and created these pants which bestowed special powers to anyone who wore them allowing them to travel at the speed of light.
Midsummer night is annually celebrated on June 24th of each year. Being the longest sunlit day of the year, it is believed this is the day all of Iceland’s magical creatures come out to celebrate. Seals removing their skins and becoming human for the night, and cows speaking in human tongue are just a couple of the magical myths. Some Icelander’s (mainly the daring ones) still follow old traditions and roll naked in the dew on the night of Jónsmessa (what Icelander’s refer to as Midsummer Night).
Northern Lights of Iceland
Another example of Icelandic folklore pertains to the Northern Lights. The magnificent lights, although beautiful, can hold an undesired fate for newborn children: if a laboring woman looks up at the colorful lights her child will be born cross-eyed. Vikings, on the other hand, believed the lights were a sign they would win in upcoming battles. HERE you can read about how and when is the best time to see the Northern Lights.
Iceland in all of its glory, magic, and beauty is filled with immense energy. Whether it is to explore your new relationship, propose, or even get married – you can only experience the best Iceland has to offer by coming to visit. Can you imagine popping the question in all of the magic of Midsummer Night, or having The Hidden People attend your elopement? Contact Us today and we can get you started on an adventure of a lifetime!