Icelandic Elves on January 6th
In Iceland a special elf related festival is held on the twelfth night of Christmas or the night of January 6th. This is when legends say the Queen of the elves traditionally rides through the countryside and it is particularly perilous to be out alone on this night.
The 6th of January is the day the last Icelandic Santa or Jólasveinn leaves for the mountains and Christmas is officially over. It is a time of happiness and celebration because the nights are getting shorter and winter is leaving.
Elf bonfires (álfabrennur) are a common part of the holiday festivities on Twelfth Night. They are held all over the country and in many places throughout Reykjavik. People will gather at these communal fires to sing songs and dance. They may even set off some of the last fireworks that are left over from the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Children in particular dress up in costumes on this night and there are shows around the bonfires. Elves play a large part in these festivities and people dress up as elves and other hidden people. An “Elf Queen” sometimes makes an appearance at these fires and she is escorted by many dressed up riders.