Traditions from times past and Yule Lads to boost. PIC Árbæjarsafn

Traditions from times past and Yule Lads to boost. PIC Árbæjarsafn

Twenty years ago the thirteen different Santa´s of Iceland only got mentioned in hushed tones as if a secret. After all, why should smelly, dirty, ugly and slightly criminal fellows from the mountains have any chance against the generous, fat and shiny Coca Cola Santa Claus now celebrated worldwide as the one and only?

But as Icelanders are wont this changed rather rapidly when some marketer discovered that foreigners were actually quite fascinated with the Iceland Santa´s. As they should be.

Fast forward and today the thirteen local Santa´s can be found in books, brochures and sometimes in the flesh around popular tourist areas each time Christmas gets close. Hell, you even have their likeness on walls in downtown Reykjavik. Read all about it here.

What we wanted to tell you about is how to get up close to the Yule Lads, as local Santa´s are known, without all the hype. A place where you will get a picture of how exactly the Yule Lads came into being and why.

For this you will have to head to the Árbæjarsafn Folk Museum in Árbæ district of Reykjavik city (see map below). This place is a little ways from the central area of the city for the reason that here you will find examples of the oldest buildings in Reykjavik and the lifestyle of locals in years long past. A must-stop for anyone interested in real history and we guarantee some surprises.

Every Sunday in December the museum puts on a special Yule Lad program which admittedly is mostly for kids but also mostly true to the old myths surrounding the Yule Lads. Even if you have no interest in old tales you should have some fun as local Christmas Carols are sung in the old fashion ways and you´ll also see how poor locals dressed up for the occasion. Pretty good selfie moment if you ask us.

Getting here is not too hard. From Hlemmur square by Laugavegur shopping street, take bus number 16. This bus stops minutes away from the museum. Ask the driver to help if you need it. More details here.

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