Jˇlasveinarnir Ý Dimmuborgum

13 Yule Lads live in Iceland, the sons of the old trolls Grýla and Leppalúði. Grýla and Leppalúði keep a pet, a wicked cat, which may sometimes catch

About the Yule Lads

13 Yule Lads live in Iceland, the sons of the old trolls Grřla and Leppal˙­i. Grřla and Leppal˙­i keep a pet, a wicked cat, which may sometimes catch children. Grřla, who is big and formidable, was said to collect the naughty children in a sack and take them home to eat for Christmas dinner. If a child is naughty, Grřla finds out immediately. Grřla can't lay her hands on good children.

An old tradition in Iceland is, that 13 days prior to Christmas the Yule Lads start coming down from the mountain one each night. Children in Iceland place their best shoe on their windowsill before going to bed and each night a little gift is left in the shoe from the Yule lad that came down from the mountain that night. If the child has been misbehaving, there might be a raw potato left instead.

The Yule Lads aren't as mean as their parents but they aren't very well-mannered either. The Icelandic Christmas season begins on December 12th, when Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) descends from the mountains. The last one, KertasnÝkir (Candle-Stealer) arrives on A­fangadagur, Christmas day on the 24th of December. Then they leave again to the mountains, one by one in the same order until the last one, KertasnÝkir leaves on the last day of Christmas, January 6th.

In the poem "JˇlasveinavÝsur" by Jˇhannes frß K÷tlum in translation by Hallberg Hallmundsson the Yule Lads are descripted as followed;

Let me tell the story
of the lads of few charms,
who once upon a time
used to visit our farms. 

They came from the mountains,
as many of you know,
in a long single file
to the farmsteads below. 

Grřla was their mother
- she gave them ogre milk -
and the father Leppal˙di;
a loathsome ilk. 

They were called the Yuletide lads
- at Yuletide they were due -
and always came one by one,
not ever two by two. 

Thirteen altogether,
these gents in their prime
didn┤t want to irk people
all at one time. 

Creeping up, all stealth,
they unlocked the door.
The kitchen and the pantry
they came looking for. 

They hid where they could,
with a cunning look or sneer,
ready with their pranks
when people weren┤t near. 

And even when they were seen,
they weren┤t loath to roam
and play their tricks - disturbing
the peace of the home.

The first of them was Sheep-Cote Clod.
He came stiff as wood,
to pray upon the farmer┤s sheep
as far as he could. 

The second was Gully Gawk,
gray his head and mien.
He snuck into the cow barn
from his craggy ravine. 

Stubby was the third called,
a stunted little man,
who watched for every chance
to whisk off a pan. 

The fourth was Spoon Licker;
like spindle he was thin.
He felt himself in clover
when the cook wasn┤t in. 

Pot Scraper, the fifth one,
was a funny sort of chap.
When kids were given scrapings,
he┤d come to the door and tap

Bowl Licker, the sixth one,
was shockingly ill bred.
From underneath the bedsteads
he stuck his ugly head. 

The seventh was Door Slammer,
a sorry, vulgar chap:
When people in the twilight
would take a little nap

Skyr Gobbler, the eighth,
was an awful stupid bloke.
He lambasted the skyr tub
till the lid on it broke

The ninth was Sausage Swiper,
a shifty pilferer.
He climbed up to the rafters
and raided food from there.

The tenth was Window Peeper,
a weird little twit,
who stepped up to the window
and stole a peek through it

Eleventh was Door Sniffer,
a doltish lad and gross.
He never got a cold, yet had
a huge, sensitive nose.

Meat Hook, the twelfth one,
his talent would display
as soon as he arrived
on Saint Thorlak┤s Day.

The thirteenth was Candle Beggar
- ┤twas cold, I believe,
if he was not the last
of the lot on Christmas Eve


Inspired by Iceland
Christmas Cities Network


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moya - Útgáfa 1.13 2009 - Stefna ehf