The Yule Lads

The 13 Santas Of Iceland

Image of the Icelandic Yule Lads

Photo credit: eeems

Children in Iceland leave their shoes on their window sill for the 13 nights before Christmas Eve. This is because for the 13 nights before Christmas they will be visited by one of Icelands 13 Santas - the Yule Lads (or yulemen).

If the children have been good, they may be left a small treat, a sweet or a chocolate - but if they are bad, they will be left a raw potato in their shoe.

But the children of Iceland are not lucky having 13 santas. Each Yule Lad is is the son of the evil troll woman, Grýla The Child Eater - each Yule Lad has his own speciality, and will try to steal and cause mischief for the children and their families.

In addition to the 13 Yule Lads, the children should also be careful of Grýla's pet - the Yuletide Cat, which will eat any child who does not recieve new clothing for Christmas.

The 13 Yule Lads

Each night in the two weeks before Christmas, one of the Yule Lads will come down from the mountains around Dimmuborgir - each Yule Lad will remain largely hidden and will cause trouble around the homes and farms of Iceland. Each will remain for two weeks, leaving one at a time in the two weeks following Christmas.

NameIcelandicDescriptionArrivalDeparture
Sheep-Cote ClodStekkjastaurHarasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs.December 12December 25
Gully GawkGiljagaurHides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk.December 13December 26
StubbyStúfurAbnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them.December 14December 27
Spoon LickerÞvörusleikirSteals Þvörur (a type of a wooden spoon with a long handle) to lick. Is extremely thin due to malnutrition.December 15December 28
Pot ScraperPottaskefillSteals leftovers from pots.December 16December 29
Bowl LickerAskasleikirHides 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 17December 30
Door SlammerHurðaskellirLikes to slam doors, especially during the night.December 18December 31
Skyr GobblerSkyrgámurA Yule Lad with an affinity for skyr (an Icelandic dairy product a bit like natural yoghurt).December 19January 1
Sausage SwiperBjúgnakrækirWould hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked.December 20January 2
Window PeeperGluggagægirA voyeur who would look through windows in search of things to steal.December 21January 3
Doorway SnifferGáttaþefurHas an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð.December 22January 4
Meat HookKetkrókurUses a hook to steal meat.December 23January 5
Candle StealerKertasníkirFollows children in order to steal their candles (which in those days was made of tallow and thus edible).December 24January 6

source: wikipedia

Other Important Characters

NameIcelandicDescription
Gryla The Child EaterGrýlaAn Icelandic troll, mother of the Yule Lads.
LeppaludiLeppalúðiLazy wretch and father of the Yule Lads.
The Yuletide CatJólakötturGrýla's pet cat, that eats children who do not receive new clothes at Christmas.
More Yule Lads There have been many more Yule Lads over the years, some of which have disappeared.

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