Christmas Traditions

Advent Lights


On the first Advent Sunday, which falls on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Icelanders traditionally put up so called Advent wreaths. The Advent wreaths traditionally are circular and are decorated with four candles which are lit, one by one, the last four Sundays before Christmas. The Advent wreaths are often ornately decorated with evergreen branches or the like. 

Many people make their own wreaths. The Advent wreaths are a relatively recent invention both here in Iceland and abroad but their origin may be traced to Northern Germany in the first part of the 19th Century. From Germany the wreaths made their way north and at the outset of the 20th Century they were well introduced in Denmark. At first they were mostly seen in the southern part of Denmark and they did not become common in the rest of the country until the occupation in 1940-1945. Advent wreaths first came to Iceland around 1930 with people who had seen them in Germany or Denmark but did not become common until after the Second World War. Nowadays, Advent wreaths are found in most homes, schools and work places and for a lot of people lighting one candle at time on the four Sundays of Advent is an integral part of the Christmas spirit.