By Amanda Little
Roads cut around oddly placed rocks, construction projects are abandoned, gifts or curses are brought accordingly, and festivals are held, all in the name of tiny, invisible people.
The Icelandic community as a whole believes elves, or the Hidden People, live alongside them in rocks and trees. You can find tiny doors painted on large boulders or small houses placed in gardens. There are stories, new and old, of humans gifted with rewards for doing something right and punished for doing something wrong. This kind of country-wide belief is strong, and only adds to the magic of the already surreal landscape.
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Icleland’s capital, Reykjavik, is the most inhabited part of Iceland by both humans and hidden people. Elves, wizard, ghosts and even the Devil himself have made appearances in this great city, along with many of the towns and villages along the coast. You can visit the Icelandic Elfschool in the capital, where you can learn about the elves and how they live among Icelandic people, for better or worse.
A quick trip down to Hafnarfjordur will bring you the Elf Garden in Hellisgerdi Park. One the solstices, there is a festival for the elves that many attend. Shows, music, dancing, and traditional food and drink are all available in this lighthearted and joyous celebration. You can also go on an Hidden World to learn about the tiny people of Iceland, and maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of one.
Continue on further south to Keflavik to the airport where nearly 200 people held a protest in the elves defense, claiming the American phantom jets and Awacs were a threat to the elves that lived in the area. The protestors eventually left of their own accord, but this kind of thing has happened across the country. Machines break down and misfortune befalls the crew and tools of certain construction projects. Some of them were simply abandoned, blaming it on the elves not wanting their homes destroyed, and some of them allegedly struck deals with the elves, adjusting their construction plans to work around the natural landscape and make peace with the Hidden People.
It’s said that the four main times of the year to see the little people are New Year’s Eve, the 6th of January, Midsummer, and Christmas Night. According to the folklore, sitting at a crossroads on a Midsummer night will make elves try to seduce you with gifts and food.
Accepting these will have grave consequences, but resisting them will bring you great rewards. Offending the elves or claiming you don’t believe in them will bring you punishments from them, and they may even visit you in your dreams to tell you so, but respecting nature always seems to garner their affection.
On your next trip to Iceland, keep an eye out for the elves. They may be waiting for you just out of sight.