For those who like their holiday eggnog served with a dash of irony, here's a real dollop to swallow. When it comes to Christmas getaways, Iceland is becoming a preferred choice destination.

On the surface, a country known as the land of fire and ice comes across more as an apocalyptic terminal for those who were naughtier than nice, as opposed to the those often preferred tropical Yuletide vacations in December.

White Christmas

But less shallow, more seasoned travelers will offer a different perspective of Iceland during the holiday season. For openers, Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, is less than 1,800 miles from the North Pole, an easy jaunt for St. Nick and his antlered fleet to drop his gift payload. And because it's so far north, a white Christmas is pretty much guaranteed.


And while much of the Christian world sets aside just one day for celebrations, Iceland goes all out, dedicating 26 days for the event. It's a non-stop marathon of festivities involving 13 Santas, whom Icelanders dub Yule Lads. The first day, Dec. 11 commemorates the arrival of the first Lad and winds up Jan. 6 when the last Lad departs. That's a lot of revelry for a tiny island nation of 340,000 happy souls.

Even though Iceland is predominantly Lutheran, that doesn't prevent other faiths from getting into the spirit. The country encourages willing Muslims to take part in their own way, while a fraction of the more Norse-oriented population does its bit to celebrate the occasion pagan-style.

Otherworldly Experience

For foodies, Christmas in Iceland is an otherworldly experience like no other. Turkey isn't very common as a holiday entree, with celebratory households opting for smoked lamb served with potato sauce or a hog roast with a Coca-Cola glaze. More eccentric families swear that Christmas is incomplete without a course that includes reindeer or ptarmigan.

To sample these delicacies, visitors are advised to make restaurant reservations months in advance as many establishment are closed during the holidays, creating a great deal of patron congestion for those deciding to remain open.

Seasonal Splendor

Taking in the Icelandic sites offers more seasonal splendor. Besides the bright, northern lights pulsating against the sky with regular abandon and church halls decked out in Christmas finery, an open-air museum in nearby Arbaer takes visitors back in time to see how previous generations celebrated.

More rustic-minded tourists will have their thirst for adventure quenched by whale-watching tours, spelunking ice caves on the island's southern coast or get warm and cozy in one of many geothermal hot springs on what is actually a volcanic archipelago. It turns out even a shot of fire and ice can actually be good for igniting the holiday spirit in all of us.