January 6 is known as Þrettándinn or ‘The Thirteenth’ in Iceland. According to the Icelandic calendar, it marks the 13th and last day of Christmas—the first being Christmas Day—and also the day when the last of the 13 Yule Lad brothers, who come down from the mountains 13 days before Christmas, returns to his cave.
Bonfires and firework shows will be held in many locations around Iceland today.
In Reykjavík, the bonfire will be preceded by a torch parade leaving from Guðríðarkirkja church at 19:30 and from the sports club Fram in Úlfarsárdalur at 19:15.
The bonfire will be lit at 8 pm. Yule Lads will drop by and the celebration will conclude with a fireworks show sponsored by Fram.
A bonfire will also take place in Ásvellir in Hafnarfjörður, a neighboring town of the capital. The evening’s program begins at 5 pm, followed by a large fireworks display at 6 pm.
The purpose of the bonfires and the fireworks is to metaphorically ‘burn up Christmas’ and mark the end of the festive season and bid the holidays farewell.
Many save some of the fireworks they bought before New Year’s Eve for Þrettándinn to say their own private explosive goodbye to Christmas.
According to legend, the last day of Christmas is just as magical as the last day of the year. On this day supernatural beings, like elves and trolls, emerge from their hidden habitats and try to lure humans into their world.
Cows are also known to acquire supernatural powers on Þrettándinn and speak in human tongue. But beware; those who try to listen to their discussions in the cowshed will lose their minds!
Other folk stories tell the tales of seals shedding their skin and walking on dry land on this magical night.
In other countries, Christians pay homage to the Wise Men on January 6.
Click here to watch an audio slideshow from a Last Day of Christmas bonfire.