Yule Lads, the boys of the long Icelandic Christmas

Posted on October 30, 2009 by

The Jólasveinar (Christmas boys), or Yule Lads, are fairy creatures, part of the Icelandic tradition. They are 13 brothers, children of Grýla e Leppalúði- two trolls living by the Mývatn lake, nearby Ludentsborgir.

Gryla is a character belonging to the ancient beliefs, it’s mentioned also in the Edda; it is famous as the “Children- eater”; Leppalúði is her subdued husband. These horrible creatures gave to their own children very weird names, coming after the mischief each of them does. Just to give an idea, hre a few names…. Ladle Licker; Sausage Thief; Window Peeper.

The tradition tells that starting 13 days before Christmas day, the Jólasveinar come down from the mountains where they live, one per night, to steal food and make jokes to mankind, but also to leave a small present to children.

Kids usually leave by the window one of their biggest shoe before going to bed, and on the following morning those who have behaved well will find a small gift left by the Yule Lad that came down from the mountain the previous night. The children  that have not behaved well, will find a row, old potato.

From Dec. 25th on, the Jólasveinarwill go back to the mountains, one per night. The last one is “Candle Catcher” that goes back on January 6th and brings with him all the celebrations!


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