We were stunned to see a Twisted Strands™ envelope in the mail from ICELAND earlier this week. I had been in contact with a teacher, Hronn Godjonsdottir, who was interested in participating in our project, but honestly, I had forgotten they were going to mail one. It was so very exciting to see!
Now, like my students, I’m not very well versed in Iceland’s geography or traditions (though I’m planning a trip to the capital Reykjavik in 2015), so I got to learn quite a bit right alongside them. Together, we are on this Twisted Strands™
adventure and it’s bringing us to some fabulous places.
Inside the envelope (which was rather heavy) was a letter with lots of information about their country and school, a calendar (more about this later) and a ribbon!
Hronn and students were kind enough to tell us all about Iceland. In their letter, they told us about an active volcana called Baroarbunga, which is located in central Iceland. The children told us that it was dangerous to go near the volcano and that they’ve seen it on TV. We used the internet to look at more information on Baroarbunga. Our children have never known anyone that lived near a real, active volcano. They expressed concern and hoped that the children at the Kindergarten would be safe and not get hurt.
We also learned that from around the middle of September to about the middle of April, the Northern Lights are easily seen from Iceland. Our children thought the picture of The Northern Lights looked like fireworks, similar to what we have here in America to celebrate our Independence Day. We looked at videos on the internet of The Northern Lights and they were very pretty. The children erupted into giggles while trying to pronounce Aurora Borealis.
As mentioned previously, there was a calendar included with the letter. It was called “The Icelandic Yuletide Calendar: Recounting the Adventures of the 13 Yuletide Lads”. None of us had ever heard of the 13 Yuletide Lads.
“In a cave high up in the blue mountains, a place fit only for ogres and trolls, Mother Gryla stirred the brew, throwing sheep dung into the fire, Father Leppaluoi sat on his bed, which he never left, unless he had to. From a dark corner there came a rumbling, loud yawning, quarreling and kicking about. After their long sleep, limbs stiff and shaky, their heads unclear, the Lads were awakening. With the approach of yet another Yuletide they were getting on their feet again. The Lads grew merrier by the hour, and the Yuletide Cat came slinking in, sensing something tastier in the offing than the mice of past months. The Lads wolfed down Gryla’s brew and prepared for their annual journey. The Yuletide Lads meant mischief, and each day another one made his way down from the mountains. Under cover of darkness they approached the homesteads, the hissing Yuletide Cat close upon their heels. At the farms, from then on, things began to disappear. Deplorable, really, the way these Lads behaved.”
In the earlier centuries, the number of Yuletide Lads varied from one part of Iceland to another. The number 13 is first seen in ballad about the giantess Gryla in the eighteenth century, the names of the Lads first appear in the “Icelandic Folk Tales” compiled by Jon Arnason in 1862. The Lads come down from their mountain dwelling, one each day. The first to arrive is Sheep-Cot Clod. He appears on the 12th of December and leaves on Christmas Day. The last one, Candle Beggar, arrives on Christmas Eve and goes back to the mountains on the 6th of January, the 13th day of Christmas.
The children at Salt Meadow Academy are very excited to read about the 13 Yuletide Lads starting on December 12. We have hung the calendar on our bulletin board for the children and families to see when they visit our classroom.
The ribbon included in the envelope was blue, red and white, which are the colors of the Icelandic flag. We hung the beautiful ribbon from the branches and even wrapped part of it around the trunk.
We marked the location on the map which we thought was closest to Mosfellsbaer, Iceland.
Thank you very much for your contribution to the Twisted Strands™ Project. Watch your mail! We have written a letter to your children and have also included a Certificate of Participation!
To have your school, program or family participate in the Twisted Strands Project, please mail your contribution to:
Salt Meadow Academy
15 Bluff Avenue
Clinton, CT 06413 USA