Iceland's Elf School

You'd think that an Elf School in Iceland would be a place you go to learn how to be one of Santa's elves, but no. It's Reykjavik's premier institution for identifying the imaginary creatures called Huldufólk, or Hidden People. Headmaster Magnus Skarphedinsson explained a few things about the Hidden People of Iceland.

He tells me he can differentiate 13 types of elf, four kinds of gnome, two species of troll and three varieties of fairy -- handing me a text book to aid identification.

Elves are depicted with long, spindly legs and big ears; dwarfs have pointed hats and turned-up shoes; gnomes are rotund and smiley.

So far, so Christmas card.

While popularly this motley crew are lumped together as "the hidden people," Skarphedinsson says (rather confusingly) the latter are actually a separate race -- the capitalized Hidden People.

The mythology of the Huldufólk is quite complicated, which is why the school is there. Some Icelanders tell stories of their encounters with the Hidden Folk, while most say they've seen no evidence, but are keeping an open mind. Read more about these elves at CNN Travel.  -via mental_floss  


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