The Huldufólk of Iceland

The Huldufolk, literally meaning “hidden people,” are a group of elusive elves, goblins, and trolls found in much of Icelandic folklore. They are said to live in an invisible dimension in houses built in the cracks of rocks, caves, and in the sides of cliffs. They can make themselves visible to humans, particularly on certain days of the year.

The Huldufolk are particularly human-like in their personalities. They have to work for their livelihood, take part in drinking, and die like all mortals. They are not known to be  particularly good or evil.  They are never malicious, but sometimes push their moral agenda harshly. For example, some stories tell of Huldufolk trying to seduce humans, punishing those who succumb to their seduction, and rewarding those who are able to resist it.

Stories of Huldufolk are still prominent in Iceland today. They are a big part of holiday festivities; New Year’s Eve, Christmas night, and Twelfth Night (January 6th), as well as Midsummer Night.  On these holidays, it is customary to leave food and candles out for the Huldufolk. Some even set up small houses for them to live in (pictured right), reminiscent of leprechaun traps children make for St. Patrick’s Day.