December 31st in Iceland is a time of celebration, a time when you get together with your loved ones to ring in the new year… hopefully, with a glass of champagne in hand.

Aside from drinking, most Icelanders like to celebrate the New Year by “blowing away” the old one with bright, sparkling fireworks.

There are those who would rather spend New Year’s Eve walking around the empty streets of their town, appreciating the display from a distance, than risking their health by setting off explosions.

They are, however, dead wrong as it is far riskier to spend the night of New Year’s Eve roaming alone than to play with pyrotechnics. Why? Because this is the night when elves walk freely among humans.


See also: Folklore in Iceland


Be especially aware of crossroads on New Year’s Eve. According to folklore, the elves will come from each direction, inviting you to parties and offering you various treasures. If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. Any offer made by an elf on New Year’s Eve should be denied. If not, you will be overcome with insanity. You have been warned…

The elves will try to trick unsuspecting victims in various ways. Elf-women will come disguised as your mother or sister, asking you to follow them. They will offer you good food, alcohol, and fancy clothes. They will even offer you silver and gold but you should always refuse.

However, just as the sunlight breaks on New Year’s day, you should get up and say “Thank God, now there is daylight across the sky”. This causes all elves to disappear, but all the food, clothes and gold they offered you will be left behind. Now that not a bad start to the year

Other strange things are said to happen on New Year’s in Iceland. For example, if you sit in a completely dark room and look in a mirror, you will see your future wife or husband. The dead are also known to rise from their graves and hold masses in churches. Cows are even rumoured to speak in common tongue.

Iceland can be a strange place this time of year.