The Hidden people of Iceland

While driving around Iceland in your rental car, you will see stones with painted doors on, you will pass roads with rocks in seemingly weird places, you will hear stories about elves. So what are they talking about?

Elf house in IcelandThe so called Huldufólk, hidden people are the elves in Icelandic folklore and have been around since the beginning of time. The term Huldufólk is an euphemism for elves for you should never call them by their name.

There is one tale that might explain why you can’t see them (very rarely). The tale goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Eve was hiding her dirty, unwashed children and lied about their existence to which god replied “What man hides from God, God will hide from man.”

According to folklore, you should never throw rocks for you might accidentally hit an elf. Elves also dislike churches, crosses and now in modern times, electricity. Elves like dancing and they liked to dance with humans too. Back in the fifteen hundreds, a sheriff banned dancing and the elves revenged the ban.

The influence of elf life can be seen on streets and roads in Iceland for the elves makes road work difficult at times. When municipalities start a laying a new road, there are very often rocks they can’t pass. When they do try to remove a certain rock, machines break down too often to be able to pass the rock so they have to go around it. In the pic to the left, you see how the road narrows. The reason being they couldn’t remove the rock while building the road. This street is Álfhóll in Kopavogur, just south of Reykjavik.

All around Iceland you will see rocks with doors painted on them or small wooden houses, álfhól, in both public and private gardens. They are all built for the Hidden people.

There are 4 holidays with Elf connections. New Year’s eve, the 6th of January, Midsummer and Christmas night. According to folklore, if you sit at a crossroads during on a Midsummer night, elves will attempt to seduce you with food and gifts. There are serious consequences for being seduced by their offers, but great rewards for resisting.

There are quite a few town and villages to claim the title of being the capital of elves. You have to make up your own mind while you are driving around Iceland in your rental car. There is plenty to read about the subject online. The passengers should keep their eyes open for elf houses along the road but remember, don’t fall for their trickery if you find yourself sitting in a crossroads on a midsummer night and unfortunately, we ran out of elf insurance! 🙂


Happy travels!  #GoIceland



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