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Dark Days and Supernatural Beings – Christmas in Iceland

December is the darkest month in Iceland. The sun rises at 11:00 and sets again at 15:30. In midst of the darkness comes winter solstice or the Yule tide, as the season used to be called and is still called in the Scandinavian languages. The jul, jól and joulu has long since been equated to the festival of Christmas in spite of the old names. Christmas traditions in Iceland have been mixed with the idea of Santa Claus – some of the Icelandic Yulelads are dressed up in red and white clothes instead of wearing their original rags. Grýla, is the mother of the Yule lads, a humongous cannibal who eats ill behaved children. One of the supernatural beings that also circles around at Christmas is the Yule cat. This cat is huge like a house, he peeks into windows and if he sees little children without new clothes at Christmas, he eats them. The idea of the Yule cat and Grýla probably come from the idea of encouraging the people to work hard and make clothes for the children and for the children to behave themselves.