Main content

Iceland's Dark Lullabies

Andri Snaer Magnason explores the dark side of Christmas in Iceland with stories of a child-eating hag and her cat, the 13 Yule Lads and celebrating Yuletide alone, locked in Ikea.

Dreaming of a Dark Christmas, in Iceland

At the darkest time of the year in Iceland scary creatures come out to play. Storyteller Andri Snær Magnason used to be terrified by his grandmother's Christmas tales of Gryla the 900 year old child eating hag and her thirteen troll sons - the Yule Lads - who would come down from the mountains looking for naughty children in the warmth of their homes. These dark lullabies partly hark back to a pre-Christian Christmas when people worshipped the Norse gods.

As Iceland opens up to global influences after centuries of isolation Andri travels from farmstead to lava field and reflects on these traditions: whether the elves still crash your house to throw a Christmas party or the cows still talk on New Year's Eve; and what happens when you have to spend Christmas alone, locked inside Ikea?

Featuring the Graduale Nobile Choir conducted by Árni Heiðar Karlsson

Partially recorded in Binaural Stereo. Listen on headphones for the best effect.

Additional sound design by Phil Channell

Producer Neil McCarthy.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Wed 20 Dec 2017 11:00