As you may have gleaned from recent posts, Icelanders really, really, really like Christmas. (Someone told me that “the Christmasy spirit makes the winter feel shorter.”) As such, there is a whole lot happening in and out of town this time of year, and it is actually very hard to avoid getting all Christmasy oneself.
I picked up a handy Reykjavík Christmas 2012 Guide to help me navigate all the events, but it turns out that information is all compiled online, too, on this Jólaborgin Reykjavík (Christmas City Reykjavík) website. There’s oodles of fun information there, including in detail explanations of Icelandic “Christmas Creatures” (including the Christmas Cat and the Yule Lads), and a practically minute-by-minute breakdown of an Icelandic Christmas Eve celebration (as well as what people generally do on the days before and after).
One of the seasonal attractions that kept coming up–both in the above-mentioned brochure and also signage around Reykjavík–was the Christmas Village in the nearby town of Hafnarfjörður. Since we had never been to Hafnarfjörður and thought a weekend excursion might be nice, we headed out there on Sunday. It was a very good day for it–sunny (once it rose, that is), crisp with a bit of a bite–and although the Christmas village itself was rather small and mostly geared toward families with small kids (understandably) we had a nice time sipping hot chocolate (in real glass mugs that the lady sweetly asked us to bring back when we were done) and wandering around for a little bit in the downtown area as well.
Popping into an antique shop that was open, we also had an enjoyable encounter with the proprietor, who, with cowboy-booted legs up on his desk and arms behind his head, casually asked Mark where we were from. When Mark said New York, the man replied that he had been there in the 1970s, and “didn’t get mugged or anything. You just gotta walk the walk and talk the talk,” he explained, before giving us his best New York-accented impression of him giving a cabbie directions. He asked why we were in Iceland and when I said I was studying Icelandic, he just nodded and said, “good for you.”
(I took some additional photos around Hafnarfjörður harbor, which you can see here if you are interested.)