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The 13 Yule Lads of Iceland

Yule lad stamps

Yule lad stamps (intracore.com)

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:

Yule lads figurines picture

Yule lads figurines from shopicelandic.com

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