It’s a few years since I have spent a December weekend in Iceland so I’ve booked a family break for us all for a few days just before Christmas. We are spending the weekend in Reykjavik to give everyone time to choose which festive things they’d like to do – walking and window shopping, visiting the well known Christmas shop full of Icelandic decorations, listen to church music, drink coffee in a bookshop or explore the Jólakrás food market where renowned chefs are joining forces with smaller street food vendors to serve up festive treats.
To gather us all together, I’m lining up a traditional Icelandic Christmas buffet so that we can all sample as many specialities as possible. In spite of the reputation that Iceland has for serving up some delicacies that would not go amiss with the celebrities in the jungle, the Christmas season in Iceland is bedecked with smoked lamb, special leaf bread, gravlax, reindeer pate and various sweets and chocolates. With so much darkness at this time of year, Iceland’s streets and houses are twinkling with lights and the shop windows are beautifully decorated. It’s so festive, especially if there’s snow around too.
The winter season in Iceland is long enough to take a holiday to celebrate Christmas or New Year though if you can, it’s worth taking advantage of the very reasonable January and early February air fares and having a winter trip then. As the days begin to lengthen, there is plenty to do and aurora hunting is still very much in season. And if you’d like to try some more challenging Icelandic fare, time your visit to coincide with Thorrablot . This is the time when traditionally, the Icelanders were running low on supplies, and ate the food that would have been stored in whey. To liven up the dark winter, this became an important family gathering and the feast would be (and still is) washed down with another speciality, the liquor Brennivin.
These festivities begin each year on the Friday between the 18th and 25th of January.