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During the Christmas festivities, an additional touch of magic takes hold of the city as it discovers a guest country. This year, Strasbourg is welcoming Iceland, the charms of which you can discover at the Icelandic Village in place Gutenberg.
Icelandic culture is full of traditions at Christmas, and in reality, darkness is an advantage when organising a light festival!
Icelanders celebrate Christmas over 13 days, and traditionally, the ceremony is focused on good food and family. This festival has deep roots for most Icelanders, since it coincides with the darkest period of the year and the moment when days start to lengthen again. As a result, Icelanders try to bring light to their festivities. Icelanders decorate their houses, inside and out, with twinkling Christmas lights. And like many regions in the world, a magnificently decorated Christmas tree is an important accessory in the living room. Indeed, Christmas in Iceland is certainly different than in other countries.
To begin with, there are not one, but 13 Father Christmases, who are loved and known as “Jolasveinar”. Instead of coming from the North Pole in a sleigh pulled by a reindeer, the Icelandic “Jolasveinars” live in the mountains and each visit the city in turn, until Christmas Eve, to bring little presents to the children. According to Icelandic folklore, their practices may be linked to bad genes and/or upbringing, since they are the children of a three-headed ogress named Grýla - whose favourite food is a stew made from naughty children - and her third husband, an ugly ogre named Leppalúði. Icing on the cake: their cat, jólakötturinn, who, rumour has it, eats children who do not receive new clothes to wear on Christmas day. The history of Strasbourg has had a European dimension since the establishment of the first Roman camp.
New Year’s Eve is probably the most important night festival of the year. The fireworks are visible all night, reaching a climax at midnight, when the sky lights up for several minutes, the fire engines ring their bells and the boats sound their horns to bring in the new year. It is certainly the biggest firework display you have ever seen..