Despite being one of the world’s smallest capitals, Tórshavn is the ideal location for Christmas shopping and extraordinary festive magic. In December, pop-up stores fill the streets of the small city: one can find everything from designer clothing to handmade Christmas decorations to Faroese art, jewellery, and knitting. Each year, the country’s largest shopping center (SMS) builds a ‘Christmas City’, filled with elves, animals, Christmas trees, and Christmas ornaments, one of the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries. With its bright lights and fun decorations, the Christmas City is always a big hit with children. The center’s shops also offer great shopping opportunities in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Take in the festive atmosphere at the ice skating rink in downtown Tórshavn. Open throughout December, the ice skating rink is a great spot to get join others in a fun, family-friendly activity. When you need a coffee break, you can visit one of the following:
Paname café: A warm and charismatic café in the old bookshop in Tórshavn, serving delicious homemade sandwiches, salads and sweets. A perfect place to enjoy the Christmas lights from the main street with a cheese platter with wine.
Kaffihúsið: A small, cosy café with a tranquil view on the pier, perfect for when cheeks and earlobes start turning red. Order a hot chocolate drink (made from pure chocolate) and a famously delicious Danish pastry for approximately DKK 50.
Brell Café: Enjoy the best coffee in town at this small curated café on the main shopping street, with a wide selection of high-quality roasted beans, teas and sweets from around the world.
The walk over the hill from Torshavn to Kirkjubø provides an overview of the sky, the sea and the mountains. After hiking for a few hours, you can experience the tranquillity of Kirkjubø’s medieval church. Make sure you bring along a packed lunch with food and hot beverages.
24 December: Christmas Eve
It all starts on the morning of December 24th: by then, food is stocked up and Christmas shopping is completed. Children wake up early, eager for the day to pass by quickly so they can open their gifts in the evening. Parents will spend the day preparing the evening’s dinner and their Christmas attire. In late afternoon, some people will make their way to church, then people will return home to eat dinner: it is common for many people in each family to gather for Christmas Eve. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins will often come together to eat dinner and open presents. The menu varies greatly from house to house: it used to be common for families to eat fermented fish on Christmas Eve, usually at 2pm. In modern times, however, duck, goose, fermented mutton and roasted lamb ribs have been added to the menu, all seen as traditional Faroese dishes, except duck that is considered an imported tradition from Denmark. After dinner, the excitement of opening the presents reaches its climax: it must be considered the longest hour of the year for every Faroese child, as they eagerly await the highlight of their Christmas. Normally, the presents are opened one by one, allowing enough time for everyone to appreciate each gift. Faroe Islanders are known to buy too many rather than too few gifts, and the fact that many Faroese children have godfathers and godmothers means they don’t just get presents from members of their immediate family. When the children are tucked into bed, the adults will enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and something sweet, and perhaps a beer or two, before tucking themselves in under thick winter duvets.
25 December: Christmas Day
After a good lie-in on Christmas Day, children will spend the day playing with their new toys and parents will relax in various ways, reading their new book or testing their new equipment: the day is spent with family. Before long, though, parents will start preparing the evening’s dinner. At noon, most people will go to church, either a Lutheran church, which is the state church of the Faroe Islands, or one of the many other churches with denominations of all sorts. At no other time throughout the year are churches in the Faroe Islands as full as on Christmas Day. Christmas lunch is normally held after church and consists of one of the aforementioned dishes. Christmas Day is usually a quiet day where families spend time with one another, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
26 December: Second day of Christmas
The second day of Christmas is a public holiday and has for centuries been considered a festive day of dancing and parties. In ancient times, people would walk from house to house to visit one another. Many houses would serve Christmas food which guests from all over were welcome to eat. It was common for people to travel to other villages to dance and enjoy one another’s company. There were even some villages that were considered ‘Christmas villages’: these would welcome large numbers of people to dance and party on the second day of Christmas. Today, the second day of Christmas still remains one of the biggest party days of the year.