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Thirteenth night

Today is the day known as Þrettándinn here in Iceland, which in Anglo-Saxonland would be called Twelfth Night.

[I always used to wonder why it was called Þrettándinn, aka ‘the thirteenth’ here in Niceland, and Twelfth Night in English-speaking countries, until I realized that Christmas officially begins a day early here in Niceland, i.e. on Christmas Eve, which accounts for the extra day. D’oh!]

Þrettándinn marks the official end to the Christmas celebrations and is celebrated with bonfires, more fireworks, and weird apparitions appearing out of the blue on horseback [elves and fairies, mostly – and for some reason it always seems to be the Elf King and Queen who make an appearance at bonfires]. It’s the day when people take down their decorations and throw their trees off their balconies [hedzup!] and basically put the Christmas mayhem behind them and get on with other things. Like reconstructing the economy.

This year, religious organizations here in Niceland have banded together and placed full-page advertisements in the papers urging people to leave the white fairy lights up while the winter darkness prevails. The lights in the darkness. Shining into our minds and hearts at this difficult time. Wee bits of electric comfort, as it were.

Truth be told, I’m so relieved that Christmas is over. This was the most exhausting Christmas season I’ve lived in ages. It’s a complete blur, in fact. In recent years I’ve become fairly adept at relaxing and enjoying Christmas, but not this year. I felt like I was rushing constantly in the several days leading up to the Big Day [probably because I was], and it definitely didn’t help that I was struck down with a nasty virus around the middle of December that I’m only just now getting over. So basically, although this Christmas certainly had its highlights, it will go down in history as the Christmas when YT found herself at 7 pm on Christmas Eve [when normal families are well into Christmas dinner] crashed out in bed, trying my best to summon any last vestiges of energy to get me through the remainder of the evening. Not good. Not exemplary, at all.

That said, I’m a bit sad to bid farewell to our lovely Christmas tree:

Tree

Adieu, pretty tree! May you have a long and happy life as wood chips on an idyllic country path! And adieu two dancing men [Johannes & Johannes] on my banner! You’ll go the way of the rest of the decorations as soon as I can find something to replace you.

IT’S BEEN RAINING ON AND OFF ALL DAY
Right now, it’s sprinkling. A storm is forecast in the northeast and gales for the rest of the country, with rising temps. Crikey! It’s unseasonably warm already – we’re going to have the crocuses sprouting soon if this keeps up. At the moment 6°C [43F], the sun came up at 11:12 am and will set at 3:55 pm.

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  • Sigga January 7, 2009, 12:19 am

    I am so happy I have an excuse not to take down my lights.. I hate the dark and especially after 6 jan… when it seems that someone turned the light off – completely for all of jan and feb… Feel bad for you that you had to have the crappy lurgy over Chrissy… I am getting it now -but I did have the best ever Christmas/New Year, twas truely full of fun and happiness…. Am wishing you a wonderful unkreppufull 2009

  • Sigga January 7, 2009, 12:19 am

    PS your tree is amazing!

  • Karen* January 7, 2009, 12:32 am

    I just don’t take down my lights. I don’t need an excuse. I like the sparkling colours.

    Last year, I was talking to someone in february about where I live, and they said ‘oh yes, you’re the house that hasn’t taken down your christmas lights yet’. Yep, that’s me.

  • rb January 7, 2009, 12:43 am

    I love Christmas lights as much as the next guy, but I can’t help but think about the lyrics to that Gretchen Wilson country song “Redneck Woman”

    tee-hee.

    Happy Holidays to everyone! or end of holidays, be that as it may 😉

  • Voyager January 7, 2009, 3:12 am

    That is pretty tree. Ours went to the chipper last weekend, sadly. It is my favourite part of Christmas. Like you, I’m glad the rest is over.
    V.

  • hildigunnur January 7, 2009, 8:51 am

    hei, hver spilar á selló? 😀

  • Auður January 7, 2009, 9:45 am

    Ótrúlega falleg mynd. Tréið, hlý birta og litir.

  • Ljósmynd DE January 7, 2009, 10:05 am

    There seem to be many people, who don’t take down their Christmas lights in Iceland. Two years ago I saw many of those lights still on by the end of february.

    Speaking of Christmas lights: When I visited Iceland in december, I was impressed by the illuminated graveyards. There were many colorful crosses with electric lights standing on the graves, the wiring raising the fear of being electrocuted on the spot. Somehow a bit spooky, but nevertheless very nice not to leave the dead out in the dark. I wonder if this lighting is removed now, too.

  • alda January 7, 2009, 10:28 am

    Sigga – takk, og sömuleiðis!

    Karen – 🙂

    rb – not familiar with that song. And happy end to you, too!

    V – you too, huh?

    hildigunnur – EPI á, en er alveg hættur að nota það.

    Auður – takk – og gleðilegt ár!

    LDE – yes, it does tend to be removed after the holidays. And I agree – illuminating the graves is one of the nicest Icelandic Christmas traditions, I find.

  • Swiss Missus January 7, 2009, 10:47 am

    Your tree’s gorgeous!

    I don’t take my lights down until spring. In Switzerland, yesterday was “Dreikönigstag”. It’s not a public holiday, but we buy and eat Königskuchen (Galette des Rois in French), which is several currant buns around a large centre currant bun topped with sugar and flaked almonds. One of the buns has a token in it, and the finder gets to wear the “crown” that comes with the cake (gold, um, cardboard).

    In our household, this means as many Königskuchen are eaten as it takes for the little man to become the König. 😉

  • rb January 7, 2009, 5:53 pm

    here’s the lyrics for you alda 😀
    I would draw your attention to the second stanza “I keep my Christmas lights on on my front porch all year long” hehe
    http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/wilson-gretchen/redneck-woman-12760.html

    anyway the song isn’t really funny unless you hear it in context, which I recommend, especially if Redneck culture is as bewildering to you as it is to me… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L30V5vnYHzk

    i suppose different cultures take the year-round lights thing with varying degrees of approval. I like the idea of it, at least through the winter.

  • Joey January 7, 2009, 6:52 pm

    Hi Alda, what gifts did you give and receive on Christmas? There’s at least one box under your tree that’s too big to be books. In Madrid, yesterday was the traditional gift-giving day: Three Kings Day or “Reyes”. In fact, many households give only token gifts on Christmas, and save the heavy stuff for Jan 6. Jan 6 also marks the last day of the season, thank goodness! From anecdotal evidence I can’t say that it felt like a year-end of crisis. You should have seen the crowds frantically shopping on Jan 5, and the biggest chain of department stores stayed open until midnight that night. Perhaps we’re still in denial.

    By the way, I nominated your blog for Best in Europe, Best Writing and Best Political. Good luck! It’s been good reading your daily musings, and I hope to do so long after things are back to normal in Iceland and it is once again off the international crisis news radar.

    Joey