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MAIN Arrow to TravelTravel Arrow to Tourist AttractionsTourist Attractions Arrow to Iceland Travel InformationIceland Arrow to Icelandic CraftsIcelandic Myths & Fables


Icelanders still construct small houses for
elves to welcome them (and to avoid bad luck.)

After generations of living surrounded by the spectacular landscape and oceans, the people of Iceland have developed a unique catalog of tales, myths and fables.

Ghosts, elves and other huldufolk still dwell in the "hidden land" of Icelandic folklore. Guardian spirits in the form of birds and bulls protect the land from foreign invaders. Mermen and mermaids are often seen in the waters.

Today, farmers who move stones in their rocky fields are still careful not to disturb stones that are home to trolls. Even construction crews have been known to change the course of a road that they think will disturb the peace of the fairy folk!

And, everywhere there are the elf houses -- affectionately set out by homeowners and gardeners to provide shelter for the wee creatures (and to prevent these characters from turning mischevious.)

Some of the creatures of myth bring good fortune while others bring sorrow, but all of the strange tales instill a deep respect for nature and the creatures that call Iceland home.

iceland
Elves are celebrated in commemorative
stamps issued by Iceland's post office.

They also provide amusing stories to pass on to children to teach them to be careful and kind.

Today, perhaps the most beloved stories centers around Christmas in Iceland when children delight in not one, but 13 "Santas" (the mischievous jólasveinn, or "Yule Lads") who visit each day of the holiday season to deliver candy and gifts.

While these mysterious folk have become an ingrained part of Icelandic culture, visitors may also learn more about Iceland's unseen inhabitants at various locations around the country.

These include the Icelandic Wonders museum in Stokkseyri as well as The Icelandic Elf School in Reykjavik where you may obtain a special educational certificate in "elfdom" to proudly display for friends and loved ones back home.


More about Icelandic myths & legends around the Web:

 


Icelandic Folktales
- Read the tales of Rogue and the Herdsman, The Witch in the Stone Boat, and more traditional tales along with a collection of Icelandic proverbs.

Álfar - Elves in Modern Day Iceland - Reuters story about elves and mediums who translate their wishes when Icelandic road crews run into trouble. A nice overview on the integration of mythology into the daily lives of the Icelandic people of today.

 

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