Today is the first day of the Advent* here in Iceland, meaning we have now entered the season of Kitty and the Yule Lads. This is definitely one of the most magical times of year here, fully qualified to rival the season of the midnight sun.
It’s the time when coloured lights decorate just about every window, and practically every other tree is wrapped in them. There are concerts everywhere, almost everyone goes to at least one Christmas buffet [usually with their workplace], and families uphold their Yule traditions, be it making laufabrauð, or baking ginger snaps, or chopping their own Christmas tree, or making their own cards, or whatever.
It’s also the season of that most smelly of Yule traditions: putrid skate day. I’llsaynomore.
Today is the day when the lights on the so-called Oslo Christmas tree are lit down on Austurvöllur square, replete with Yule Lad appearances [and usually Grýla, too] and other festivities. The city of Oslo has given Reykjavík a tree for the past, oh, several decades now, every year in December, and taking your kids out to see the lights lit has become an Icelandic tradition. [I read somewhere the other day that clearly the Norwegians don’t hold a grudge since last year that tree ended up on a bonfire during the Kitchenware revolution – although by then it had more already served its purpose.]
At any rate, the weather has totally cooperated – it started snowing two days ago and has continued … right now the ground is all white and the coloured lights are magical in the [plentiful] winter darkness. We got our Advent lights out just now and have dutifully placed them in the window; these will be followed up by lighted stars in the next few days. It’s cold, though: -1°C [30F] with a fair amount of wind, so I expect we’ll be beholding those lights more or less from indoors.
Incidentally, for anyone curious about our Yule traditions, I’ve written extensively about them during the months of December over the last five years, so feel free to browse the Archives.
* For anyone who doesn’t know, the Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and marks the start of the official Christmas season for the Nordic countries, at least.