In this vast country with a small population, it is usual to speak of “hidden creatures” as a reality. In Spain we would call crazy, geeks or children the people who believe in elves and gnomes, but if we do this survey in Iceland, all seem completely sane and normal.
Located just below the Arctic Circle, the remote nation of Europe is probably one of the strangest in the world. Civilized, and no strangers to technology, the majority of Icelanders believe strongly in the existence of mystical creatures like elves, gnomes and fairies. Disturbing the mystical creatures who live around Iceland is believed to bring bad luck, so human inhabitants do almost anything to avoid disturbing their peace.
In Iceland there are “elves observers”, who decide how to develop an urban settlement in order to avoid disturbing the supernatural inhabitants of the country. In many Icelandic families are a member (or more) having a so-called “sixth sense” or who is “more perceptive” than other people. Local and national authorities respect the popular beliefs and have had to accept in public belief in gnomes, elves and goblins.
It may sound funny, but engineers often divert roads, pipelines and cables, at great expense, in order to avoid the homes of elves and other hidden creatures. There are many stories of lost fishermen because have not heeded warnings of the elves to not fish, sick people or burnt houses for provoking the wrath of hidden creatures.
One case occurred in 2004, during the building of a golf resort on the outskirts of Reykjavik. During construction mistakenly moved a rock believed to be home of the elves, and since then, the bulldozers began to fail and workers began to suffer various injuries. To solve the problem, the chief engineer apologized to the elves and promised not to cause discomfort. It was announced in the media and the accidents stopped and they could finish the work. Another example is that during the ’70s in Kópavogur the construction of one of the largest roads in the village were a disaster. The plan included enlarge the road, but fairly large hill caused an obstacle and needed to move it. The constructors brought large machines to accomplish the task, but all stood or breaking. The workers also suffered accidents while doing so. According to the belief and tradition in this hill lived “hidden people”. Finally, the authorities changed the plan, and now the road bends around the hill. It’s called “Hill Street gnomes” (Álfhólsvegur).
It is known that the end of the year, the “hidden people” change their residences, and there are sagas that confirm that these creatures have needed help from humans, particularly in conflict cases.
Love to supernatural in Iceland has led to the first school of goblins, just in the nation’s capital. Thousands of people pay a fee for a one-day course about the goblins and other paranormal creatures. Those who believe that the country is home of more than 20,000 supernatural creatures say: “Maybe these creatures are more visible in Iceland, because we are more open-minded.”
Not all Icelanders believe in these fairy tales, but even those skeptics behave as if they believed it to make sure nothing bad happens.
The origin of these supernatural beliefs may be in Iceland isolation from the world. The illustration, which put science ahead of superstition, came too late to Iceland. Furthermore, to make the cold dark winters bearable, Icelanders developed a rich storytelling tradition, full of heroes, supernatural creatures and other folk elements. Over the years, the line between the mystical tales and reality seem to have ceased to exist, and people began to believe that fantasy was reality.
Today, out of many Icelandic homes are small houses, ready for gnomes.
It is not so hard for me to understand that here people come to believe in fairies, elves, gnomes and trolls … Iceland is a country with fairy tales landscapes. It is a magical island.