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Dang it, we missed Þrettándinn again


I have a thing about Iceland. Nobody can say if their present culture is ancient Northern Europe trapped in amber, or three hundred thousand blonde people abandoned on a rock in the North Atlantic to go mad. Bit of both, probably. Interesting either way.

Iceland’s version of Twelfth Night is called Þrettándinn, and it’s so much more than the day they take the tree down.

Tradition says it’s moving day for household fairies (moving out or moving in, either way you’d best be nice to them). If you wait at the crossroads, you might con some good stuff out of the fairies, too. Seals cast off their sealskin coats and dance, as naked ladies, on the beach. Water turns to wine.

It’s your last day to catch one of the Yule lads — the guys in the picture up top. The whole list is here . They arrive one by one at Christmas, and leave one by one. Last out is Kertasníkir the Candle Beggar.

Cows speak. In nonsense verse. In rhyming couplets. In Hebrew. Okay, I’m kind of leaning toward ‘abandoned on a rock in the North Atlantic to go mad’ now.

It’s a day of bonfires and fireworks. But — and this is the part I really think we should adopt — it’s a last celebratory hurrah!. You finish all the nice holiday food, drink up the liquor, burn up the candles, binge watch Downton on iPlayer.

Also, you take your Christmas tree down. No, we haven’t yet.

January 7, 2016 — 10:23 pm
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