Mischievous, monstrous or generous? Iceland has 13 equivalents of Santa Claus who appear on separate nights in the lead-up to Christmas. Their origin is in Icelandic folklore, and they were a useful way to keep children in check as they had some quite vile behavioural characteristics.
These days the Yule lads are benevolent, gift-giving little fellas and often appear dressed in a similar way to Santa Claus and can probably be hired for public appearances. All a child has to do to receive a present is leave a shoe on the window sill. If they’ve been bad, mind, they’ll find a potato in that shoe on Christmas morning.
Here’s a cheesey Yule lads video:
What are the names of the Yule Lads?
Here’s a list of the names of Yule Lads, and also when in December each of them put in an appearance. With thanks to Wikipedia
December 12 Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) – Harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs.
December 13 Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) – Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk.
December 14 Stúfur (Stubby) – Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them.
December 15 Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker) Steals Þvörur (a type of a wooden spoon with a long handle – I. þvara) to lick. Is extremely thin due to malnutrition.
December 16 Pottasleikir (Pot-Licker) Steals leftovers from pots.
December 17 Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker) Hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their ‘askur’ (a type of bowl with a lid used instead of dishes), which he then steals.
December 18 Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer) Likes to slam doors, especially during the night.
December 19 Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler) A Yule Lad with an affinity for skyr.
December 20 Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper) Would hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked.
December 21 Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper) A voyeur who would look through windows in search of things to steal.
December 22 Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer) Has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð.
December 23 Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook) Uses a hook to steal meat.
December 24 Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) Follows children in order to steal their candles (which in those days was made of tallow and thus edible).
Proof of Yule Lads’ existence
Has to be true:
Buy some Yule Lads’ figurines
The Nordic store are selling this set of 16 figures:
The devilish-looking character at the back is the lads’ troll mother, and there’s even a Yule cat who attacks those unfortunates who don’t receive a new piece of clothing at Christmas (??)
Related posts: Legend of the Golem of Prague