The Icelandic Yule Lads | The Icelandic Santa Claus(es) Yes in Plural!
(Good to know before reading this Jólasveinar, Santa Clauses and Yule Lads are three expressions for the same thing)
On the morning of the 12th of December, Icelandic children will wake up with a smile on their face and butterflies in their bellies, the reason? Yule Lads or like we like to call them in Icelandic Jólasveinar!
The night before everyone who believes in the Yule Lads will put a shoe in their window and keep it there for 13 days. This very specific number has to do with the number of Icelandic Jólasveinar (e. Santa Clauses, if you aren’t keeping up). Every night a new Yule Lad will visit their window placing a small gift in their shoe. This is not at all as creepy as it sounds and for many the ultimate best part of the days running up to Christmas day.
Many might think, what? 13 Yule Lads? That’s way too many! But actually, that’s not all. The family actually consists of The 13 Yule Lads (who are all brothers) a mom, Grýla, a dad, Leppalúði and then there is the cat.
Grýla, The Mother of the Yule Lads
The mom of the Yule Lads. She has the ability to detect when children are not behaving all year around and during Christmas, she leaves her home in the mountains to hunt the naughty children and makes stew out of them. According to legend, there is never a shortage of food for this feisty broad.
Leppalúði, the Lazy Husband
Grýla’s husband and a father to the Yule Lads but not much more than that is known about this big-nosed man. He must eat what Grýla cooks but he has never been seen kidnapping or cooking children.
The Christmas Cat
A vicious black hairy animal that hunts children who don’t something new to wear for Christmas and eats them!
Now onto the main thing, THE YULE LADS.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Yule Lads have not always been considered nice men. They used to go around stealing and breaking into people’s houses. Many believe the legends to have started around homeless, poor and hungry men who in the cold winter here in Iceland were just trying to survive. Slowly through the centuries everything, except their names, have changed, which now make little sense. But anyhow here they are the 13 brothers.
December 12. Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote-Clod)
The first Yule Lad comes on the night before the 12th of December. He was said to suck milk from sheep and was known for having two wooden feet, peg-legged.
December 13. Giljagaur (Gully Gawk)
The second Yule Lad comes on the night before the 13th of December. He was known to hide in barns and steal the froth of the milk buckets.
December 14. Stúfur (Stubby)
The third of the Yule lads comes on the night before the 14th of December. He was known for being unusually short and for stealing pans so he can eat crust lefts on them.
December 15. Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker)
The fourth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 15th of December.
Known to steal þvörur (s long wooden spoons) to lick them. He is always the and tall thin one.
December 16. Pottaskefill (Pot-Licker)
The fifth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 16th of December.
Known to steal leftovers from pots.
December 17. Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker)
The sixth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 17th of December.
He was known to hide under beds when people used to place their “askur”, a plate used for all meals, under there. He then stole the askur and ate from it.
December 18. Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer)
The seventh of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 18th of December.
The loudest one, he was known to slam doors, especially during night time.
December 19. Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler)
The eighth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 19th of December.
This one was known to be obsessed with the Icelandic yogurt Skyr, stealing it at any cost.
December 20. Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper)
The ninth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 20th of December.
Known to hide in the rafters and steal sausages that were being smoked.
December 21. Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper)
The tenth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 21st of December.
Probably the creepiest one, we would peek inside people’s windows to see if there was anything to steal.
December 22. Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer)
The eleventh of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 22nd of December.
Known to have an extremely long, large nose and an amazing sense of smell that the usually uses to locate the famous Laufabrauð.
December 23. Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook)
The twelfth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 23rd of December.
The ones who uses a hook to steal meat.
December 24. Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer)
The thirteenth of the Yule Lads comes on the night before the 24th of December.
The one who followed children to steal their candles (which used to be edible, made from fat).
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