Ghosts in the North: Celebrating Halloween in Iceland

halloween under the northern lights in iceland

In Iceland, the spooky vibes of Halloween resonate with locals who delight in donning ghostly outfits, decking out their homes, and gathering sweets. Though a relatively new festivity on the Icelandic cultural scene, the country has wholeheartedly embraced this ghostly holiday, making it their own unique version of Halloween.

Nowadays, children eagerly wear their costumes, wandering their local streets for the annual trick-or-treat ritual, while households compete in decking their homes with eerie adornments. The celebration has witnessed a meteoric rise, transitioning from an unfamiliar foreign festivity to a widely anticipated communal affair.

What Sets Icelandic Halloween Apart?

A few years back, Halloween was merely an American tradition without much significance in Iceland. The shift might be attributed to growing globalization and the pervasive influence of social media. But who know? While American cultural elements strongly permeate Icelandic society, especially in pop culture, it's noteworthy that only Halloween is the only one that has made its mark as a national celebration and it´s only getting bigger each year.

While the majority of Europe and America adjust their clocks for winter on October 31st, Icelanders don't practice daylight savings. This unique distinction might explain the earlier lack of Halloween enthusiasm in the country.  

kids collecting candy on ash wednesday in iceland

How Do Icelanders Celebrate Halloween?

Also, Iceland has its version of a dress-up-and-collect-candy festivity: "Öskudagur" or Ash Wednesday, celebrated in February. Marking the end of Iceland´s midwinter festival Þorri. Often likened to Halloween, the main similarity lies in the costume-clad kids and candy collection, with children singing in shops to earn their treats. Unlike Halloween's spookiness, Ash Wednesday is more about the quirky tradition of the "cat in the barrel," a type of Nordic piñata.

Interestingly, Halloween began in Iceland as an adult’s celebration with themed parties. But soon, the entire society jumped on the bandwagon, making it an all-age festivity. Another contributing factor might be the relatively milder October weather, compared to the chill of February, rendering Halloween a more convenient option for outdoor activities.

halloween iceland jack o lantern

The Icelandic Halloween spirit

Regardless of its late introduction, Halloween has entrenched itself in Icelandic culture, promising a thrilling experience for all. If you're keen to dive into the Icelandic Halloween spirit, gear up in your most spine-chilling outfit and explore the eerie wonders of the night under the magical northern lights in Iceland.

And for a smooth journey, Blue Car Rental offers the perfect vehicular companion. Although we don't stock Halloween outfits, our top-notch car rentals ensure a seamless Icelandic adventure.

 

For more insights into Iceland's rich cultural tapestry and handy travel tips, peruse our blogs. Ready to embark on your journey?

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