Having recently celebrated Halloween here in the UK by paying homage to all things ghostly, ghastly and ghoulish, for many people in Iceland supernatural presence has become a part of everyday life. Of course you know about witches, wizards, fairies and ghosts, but have you heard of the Huldufólk, or hidden people? It is most certain that these fellas top the Icelandic voting polls for most credible supernatural being. The hidden people, whose identity is often blurred with that of an elf’s, stem from Icelandic folklore and, according to one folklore tale, can be traced back to the genesis of Adam and Eve - you better Adam and Eve it!
Is it a hobbit hole?
Rocky mounds are thought to home the hidden people, and several building projects in Iceland have been altered to avoid causing any harm to the mysterious, nomadic beings. Road and highway constructions have been halted when the public became aware that rocks of the hidden people were set to be demolished. Sometimes ‘elf doors’, made from wood and colourfully painted by locals, are placed in front of rocks known to be populated by the hidden people; this ensures that others know not to disrupt their humble homes!
It has been said that the hidden people are very close in looks and size to human beings; the only difference is that they are invisible to most of us! To able to see the elusive rogues, you must either be granted special permission by them or possess some kind of unique ability. Although they have longer life expectancies than us human folk, the hidden people, like us, are born and then they die. In fact, their way of life is very similar to our own: they eat, drink, move house, fish, play instruments, hold parties and even keep animals!
Human beings v hidden people
Local folklore tells us that the relationship between humans and the hidden people is a fragile one: dare to provoke or anger the hidden spirits and you will face grave punishment…but please them will see that you are repaid in rich blessings. As well as their power to provoke a natural disaster or inflict illness, they may also bless a region with glorious weather and smooth sailing seas, as well as shower a farmer’s field in an abundant, healthy harvest! If you go to Iceland and witness an out-of-the-blue rockslide, you may hazard a guess that somebody, somewhere, has maddened the mysterious hidden people!
As the festive seasons creeps up on us once again, many of you will be looking forward to a string of colourful parties, indulging in delicious Christmas treats and the possibility of catching a glimpse of the big man in red, shuffling elusively down our chimneys! … Meanwhile, activities in Iceland are focused on preparing for the arrival of the hidden people who, over the Christmas period, are said to invade Icelandic farmhouses and throw wild parties themselves! It is an Icelandic tradition to clean the house before Christmas and to leave food for the Huldufólk- forget Father Christmas and Rudolph, it’s the hidden people who are first to the home-cooked bait during Iceland’s festive season!
Álfaskólinn: The Icelandic Elf School
You've heard of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but what about the Icelandic Elf School? No, it’s not one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional creations, it’s a real school in Reykjavík that teaches students and visitors about Icelandic folklore. Magnús Skarphéðinsson, the school headmaster, organises five hour long educational excursions for visitors and rounds off the tour with coffee and pancakes at the school – delightful! Since opening in 1991, over 9000 people have attended the school!
So why not plan a trip to Iceland with Transun and learn more about the incredible folklore tales of these fascinating hidden beings…