Every country has its own Christmas traditions. In Iceland, almost the entire population celebrates Christmas and the holidays are for many Icelanders the most significant and most exciting time of the year. As early as mid-October you will begin to see Christmas advertisements from local stores, and at the end of November, you will start to hear Christmas songs on the radio. From there, people begin to celebrate various Christmas traditions, leading up to Christmas Day.

The Advent

Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition and Iceland as well. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve. In Iceland, a vital part of the Christmas decorations is the Advent wreath, a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with four candles. On every Sunday during the Advent, people light a candle, representing the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent.
The first Sunday of Advent marks  the beginning of the Christmas season, and many Icelanders begin to decorate their houses with Christmas lights and decorations on this day.

Christmas Chocolate Calendar

Children get to happily munch chocolate every day for the month of December (until the 24th), all in the name of the festive season. This is a fun tradition often accompanied by adventurous television series, a 24 mini TV episodes aired from the 1st until the 24th of December.


In Iceland, you can’t spell Christmas without Laufabraud, figuratively speaking. Sometimes called “snowflake bread”, Laufabraud is a traditional kind of Icelandic bread eaten during the Christmas season. Originating from northern Iceland but now eaten throughout the country, it consists of round, fragile flat cakes with a diameter of about 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches), decorated with leaf-like, geometric patterns and fried briefly in hot fat or oil.
Laufabrauð can be bought in bakeries or made at home, either with ready-made dough or from scratch. Patterns are either cut by hand or created using a heavy brass roller, the laufabrauðsjárn (“leaf bread iron”). Leaf bread making at home is usually a family undertaking and often an essential part of the Christmas preparations, where several generations gather and take part in the decorating.

The 13 Yule Lads

Icelandic children get to enjoy the favors on not one but thirteen Santa Clauses. Their number has varied over time but currently, are considered to be thirteen. Called the Yule Lads, these merry but mischievous fellows take turns visiting kids on the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. On each of those nights, children place one of their shoes on the windowsill. For good boys and girls, the Yule Lad will leave presents for them. For the not so well behaved, the Yule Lads are not subtle in expressing their disapproval: they fill the shoe with rotting potatoes.

Christmas buffets

One of the most tenacious Christmas traditions of the Advent is the Christmas buffet. Starting at the end of November and leading up to Christmas day, the Christmas buffets are an essential part of the Holiday season in Iceland. Most restaurants and hotels offer Christmas buffets during the weekends, where one will find dozens of gourmet dishes including different types of herring, smoked and cured salmon, reindeer pâté, smoked puffin, ubiquitous smoked lamb, roast pork with rind, rack of ham, turkey and much more. Many corporations and smaller companies invite their staff to a christmas buffet, to celebrate Christmas and the past business year.