Santa Claus of Iceland
The Icelandic Yule Lads, Christmas boys or Yulemen


Christmas in Iceland and the Icelandic Yule Lads, the Icelandic Santa Claus
Nobody knows exactly how the Icelandic Yulemen, offen called Yule lads or just santas, came into being. The Icelandic "Santas" are not to be mixed with the "Coca-cola" santa known in USA and Europe, these are little differend.

In Iceland there are 13 santas in icelandic it said "Jolasveinar" and means Christmas Boys jul lads. Even thou they are said to be much much older the first appeared in the 17th century, but it's seams that they have been a part of Icelandic traditions for a long time. The are the sons of two trolls, Gryla and Leppaludi.

Gryla and Leppaludi and their 13 sons - Santas parents
Gryla and Leppaludi were frightening creatures (they are said to be dead), and had a reputation for snitching and eating children who are naughty.

When stories about the Jolasveinar first appeared, they were frightening creatures just like their parents. Over the years, they have become milder, gentler creatures and know just plain fun to be around.

The Icelandic Christmas boys come one by one, and start arriving 13 days before Christmas. Each one would do their best to cause minor havoc on Christmas preparations.

Whos is who and what does he do?
The first one to arrive is the yule lad Stiff Legs, (Sheep-Cop-Clod): He loves to suck milk from the sheep, but his stiff legs make that very difficult. In Icelandic he's called "Staurfotur". The Second to arrive is the infamous Gully Gawk, (Gully Guy): Has a taste for the froth on the milk and keeps close to the cows.

The third is the yule lad Shorty,  small and nimble and smacks his lips over the leftovers in the cooking pans, especially if they are burnt or gone bad.  Then there is Ladle Licker, (Fence-Post-Pal), so thin he resembles the ladles which he licks the food from.

The fifth to arrive is Pot Scraper, he snatches the unwashed pots from the kitchen and scrapes the insides with his fingers and tongue and leaves them quite clean. Number six is Bowl Licker,  very cunningly finds bowls that have been left unattended and finishes all food from them.

The seventh to arrive is door Slammer, he gets his kicks from slamming doors and making noise, using every chance he gets to disturb peoples sleep Then the nimber eight is  curd Glutton (Skyr Gobbler), dairy products are his favorite and if stored in closed containers he simply breaks through the lid with his fist.

Ninth to arrive is  the great Sausage Snatcher, (Sausage Swiper), very skilful when it comes to climbing up into the rafters to steal sausages where tha hang after being smoked.

Then there is the not so popular Window Peeper, (Peeping Tom), he flattens his nose against every window to glimpse something to steal or at peoples actions inside.  The eleventh to drop by is Sniffer,  he has a huge nose and sniffes out his favorite food, fried bread, wherever it is being made.

Twelfth of the Christmas boys to drop by is Meat Hook, he has a long pole with a hook on the end to put down the chimneys and into the meat hung on the rafters.  And the last to come is Candle Beggar, he loves candles of all sorts and can't make up his mind whether to eat them or watch their lovely light.

Today, they leave little presents for the children who have behaved all year. The children leave their shoes on their window sills and the Jolasveinar but in it little gifts. Any children who have been naughty get a potato or some other reminder that good behavior is essential around Christmas.

Happy hollydays

Nordic Store

Gryla by a traditional Icelandic christmas buffet

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