In Iceland, there is no Santa Claus. Instead, there are thirteen yule lads, descendants of trolls and the sons of Gryla, an old meanie who eats children, and of course, a Christmas cat. Read more about all the Icelandic Christmas traditions here.
On my move from Akureyri to Reykjavik at the end of November, I stopped in the small town of Skagastrond to pick up some things and say hello to some folks. As it turned out, that evening was the town's Christmas tree lighting celebration. Children danced around the tree as the town sung carols. The celebration always features a special visit from the yule lads who hand out candy to the children. This year's celebration included a yule lad that spoke no Icelandic...During my visit to the mayor's office, he asked me if I wanted to participate in the festivities. I left it up to the other yule lads who thought it would be a good idea, most likely for their amusement. Nonetheless, I ran around handing out candy and scaring little children, which is apparently quite normal, saying nothing but Ho Ho Ho, Gleðileg jól, and Eg Heiti Ketkrókur (my name is meat hook).
The Skagastrond yule lads
Before leaving Akureyri, we also witnessed the tree lighting there. Their celebration was a little bigger (it is after all the second largest city in Iceland).
Some aged Santas in Akureyri singing songs that I can only hope are Christmas related