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No Santa Claus in Iceland!

Yes, you read it right. There is no Santa Claus in Iceland; it hasn’t been and won’t, at least not in the near future. Fear not, or maybe fear more; there are actually thirteen so called Yule Lads. These are the sons of two ferocious trolls, Grýla and Leppalúði. 

Grýla is their mother, thousands of years old, ugly, big, and fearsome. Like Santa Claus, she brings a bag to town, but her bag is empty. She fills the bag with naughty children and brings them up to the mountains, where she puts them in a big pot, boils them, and eats them. If that isn't enough, then if you don't wear any new clothes on Christmas day, the black big Yul Cat will eat you! Such beautiful Christmas stories for our children. Grýla actually has almost 200 offspring of her own with four different husbands. Only thirteen of them we call Yule Lads, and they are the sons of Leppalúði. His name translates to a bad dressed moron. In the troll stories, usually the mail trolls are more stupid than the females.

The Yule Lads come down from the mountains, starting thirteen days before Christmas, one at a time. If kids put a shoe in the window, the Yule Lads put a small gift in it. This may be a fruit or a small toy, but naughty kids will get a potato. The Yule Lads weren’t always so nice. Their names tell a bit more about them and their nature.

These are their translated names and the day they arrive in town:

  • December 12. Sheepcote-Clod or Limpy (Stekkjastaur) He tries to suckle the udder teats in the farmer's sheepcote

  • December 13. Gully Gawk or Ravine guy (Giljagaur), Is said to steal the cow milk

  • December 14. Stubby (Stúfur) He's stolen food from pots and frying pans

  • December 15. Spoon-Licker (Þvörusleikir)

  • December 16. Pot-Licker (Pottaskefill)

  • December 17. Bowl-Licker (Askasleikir)

  • December 18. Door-Slammer (Hurðaskellir) What the name says but he was actually swapped out for another one, Skirt-blower, see for you Marilyn Monroe

  • December 19. Skyr-Gobbler (Skyrgámur) He steals and eats the famous yogurt, like Skyr

  • December 20. Sausage-Swiper (Bjúgnakrækir)

  • December 21. Window-Peeper (Gluggagægir)

  • December 22. Doorway-Sniffer (Gáttaþefur)

  • December 23. Meat-Hook (Ketkrókur) Steals the meat and eats it

  • December 24. Candle-Beggar (Kertasníkir) Candles used to be made from sheep fat, so they were eatable. Nowadays, this Yule lad is the one kids love the most because he usually gives the best gifts

You don’t need much imagination to see that the names of these Yule Lads can also refer to more adult thinking!

We celebrate Christmas at 6 p.m. on the 24th. From the Old Testament in the Bible, it says, “First there was night..." So, actually, the day starts at night. Same reason as for the Sabbath starting on Friday night.

With happy holiday wishes to you all and thanks for following us, we want to show you an Icelandic musician, Daði Freyr’s, take on the Yule Lads: 

The picture if from Svínafellsjökull we visit on our two and three days tours in the south.

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