Icelandic folk tales and superstition

There are many Icelandic folk tales and our most popular folk tales are about elves and trolls.  People can‘t really know from what year folk tales are but they started when people in the olden days were telling stories in the night time to scare each other, and some stories became more popular than others and some stories were not only stories, and people are still telling those stories but most to little kids.

trollSome “facts” connected to folk tales about elves:

  • Everybody knows the elves that work for Santa Claus but the Icelandic elves are not quite like that.
  • The Icelandic elves live in rocks and some people can see the deferens between rock that is just a rock and a rock that is an elves home.
  • All elves have one queen and she lives in big a rock palace.
  • And many people say that they have seen her and that she lures men to her and into her rock and they become elves them self and never get out again.
  • Hidden people are just ordinary people but they can choose when they want to be seen or not.
  • According to one folk tale, the origins of the hidden people is be traced to Adam and Eve. Eve hid her dirty, unwashed children from God, and lied about their existence.
  • You can never be sure if you’re talking to a hidden person or not.

Some “facts” connected to folk tales about trolls:

  • They live in the mountains
  • Are very ugly and big
  • Eat children
  • When the sunlight hits them they will  turn into rock

In Iceland are many superstitions. Of course it is a superstition like Friday the 13th, horseshoes and not to look into black cat eyes or walk under a ladder. These superstitions are very international and many Icelandic people believe them. In Iceland we also have our own superstition:

  • It‘s not unusual to see northern lights in Iceland in the winter and it is said that if the northern light are moving very fast and have much nuance then the existence of strong winds but they are still then it means that the weather will be configured.
  • Red northern light represent trouble and bad things, thankfully we don’t have much of them in Iceland.
  • If a pregnant women looks at northern lights or glittering stars will the baby that she carries will get crossed eyed

hrafnarIn Iceland there are a lot of very pretty birds and a superstition is connected to some of them like; 

  • European oystercatcher, Tjaldur. If you are alone when you see him in the first time in the spring then someone close to your family will die.  
  • And if you see two ravens it means good luck but if you only see one it means bad luck.
  • If a pregnant woman eats the egg of a ptarmigan, Rjúpa will the baby have a lot of freckles.

In the town Höfn there is some superstition that not everybody has in Iceland. But many of them are very old and not many young people know about them.

  • Fiancé and fiancée should not give each other things that can rust because when the things rust the love will rust with them
  • Married couples should never have ptarmigan feathers in there sheets because then it will lead to argument or even divorce
  • In the olden days kids were not allowed to walk backward, because by every step they will take they will speed up the death of their mother
  • Also kids were not allowed to walk in other person footprints because then they were walking them to their grave
  • The last one - people are supposed to have as many children as the wrinkles are on our forehead

Written by Guðrún Kristín and Heiðdís Anna

Presentation about folk tales and superstition