Culture

Most People In Iceland Really Believe In Elves

The majority of people in Iceland believe in invisible elves. This isn't just silly folklore to them—elves affect many aspects of modern life in Iceland.

Why It Matters

Who could truly believe in invisible elves? Children, perhaps? Actually, try the majority of the Icelandic population. One 1998 survey showed that 54.4 percent of Icelanders said they believed in the existence of elves. These elves in question are known as the Huldufolk, or the "hidden people," and are allegedly invisible. They're not tiny people like, say, Santa's elves in the North Pole workshop. Invisible Icelandic elves are said to be the same size as visible human people like you. The belief in elves is more than just silly fun—a big part of the folklore is intertwined with the identity of Iceland as a nation.

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Why It's Relevant

Folklore and cultural values can play a large role in the ways communities work together and function to the best of their ability. It can be argued that a belief in elves may keep some Icelanders in check, as not to disturb the supernatural forces of the elves. There have been instances of construction projects that have halted because the planned roads would interrupt the elves living in those paths. As The Atlantic reports, "beliefs in misfortune befalling those who dare to build in elf territory is so widespread and frequent that the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has created a five-page "standard reply" for press inquiries about elves."

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Written by Curiosity Staff March 31, 2016