Iceland’s vast folklore adds to the mystique and thrill of the Christmas Season with no less than 13 mischievous Yule Lads, or jolasveinar, who are supposed to be descendants of trolls. They live in the mountains with their terrifying ogress mother Gryla and her giant black cat, which eats all the children who don’t receive new clothes for Christmas.
Instead of bringing gifts, the Yule Lads take turns sneaking into town during the 13 days before Christmas to create mischief as Icelandic families prepare for the holiday festivities. During this time 'Window Peeper', 'Bowl Licker', 'Door Slammer' and their 10 brothers do just what their names suggests.
But these playful lads aren’t all bad, they often make appearances at holiday gatherings to sing and dance around the Christmas tree, and they do leave a small present in the shoes of children who leave them on windowsills for that purpose.
After Christmas, the Yule Lads head back to the mountains one at a time until they’ve all gone.
The first Yule Lad, Sheep-Cote Clod, comes to town on December 12th. He used to try to suckle the yews in the farmers' sheep sheds, which was hard for him since his legs are stiff as wood.
Next in line is Gully Gawk. He waits in gullies for a chance to sneak into the cowshed to slurp the foam off the fresh milk when the milkmaid looks away.
Stubby arrives on December 14th. The smallest of his brothers, Stubby uses his vertically challenged stature to hide and snatch bits of food from the frying pan. That’s why he’s also known as Pan Scraper.
On December 15th it is Spoon Licker’s turn. He likes to sneak into houses and lick the wooden spoon used to scrape the pots. Unfortunately this poor diet has led to malnutrition and his very gaunt appearance.
Pot Scraper comes to town on 16 December. He likes to knock on your door and when you go to answer it, he snatches away the pots that have not been washed and licks the food remains from the insides.
Up next is Bowl Licker. In the past, Icelanders ate from lidded wooden bowls that they sometimes kept under the bed or on the floor. Bowl Licker would hide under the bed, and if someone put their bowl on the floor he grabbed it and licked it clean.
On December 18th there’s no more peace and quiet since that’s when Door Slammer arrives. He likes to make a lot of noise and his favourite is slamming doors, making sure no one gets any rest.
Skyr Gobbler makes his way down from the mountains on the 19th. He is obsessed with skyr, an Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt. He likes it so much that he’ll sneak into the pantry and eat all the skyr until he howls with indigestion.
December 20th marks the appearance of Sausage Swiper. He loves to eat sausages and will sit up in your rafters waiting for an opportunity to steal them.
December 21st is when Window Peeper visits. While not as greedy as some of his brothers, Window Peeper can still give you a fright. He likes to peep through the windows in search of something to steal.
Door Sniffer comes to town on December 22nd. You can spot him from miles away due to his huge nose. The smell of Christmas cookies and leaf bread is what attracts him to your doorway and if you look away he will attempt to steal some.
Second to last, Meat Hook arrives on December 23rd, or St. Thorlaks Mass. Meat Hook is crazy about meat. He’ll climb up to your roof and lower a long hook through the chimney to try and snag a smoked leg of lamb hanging from the rafters, or a piece of smoked lamb from the pot.
The last of the brothers is Candle Beggar who arrives on Christmas Eve, 24 December. In the old days, candles were the brightest lights available to people in Iceland and were made of tallow. All children longed to have their very own candle for Christmas. Candle Beggar just wants a candle of his own to take a bite out of.
Iceland Travel 2017 © - All Rights Reserved - Skógarhlíð 12 105 Reykjavik Iceland
Your browser is outdated. Due to security reasons your browser needs to be updated. Learn how to update your browser.