the yuletide-lads, yule lads, yulemen (icelandic) (jólasveinarnir) (jólasveinar) yule lads info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Lads - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Cat - starting on the 12th of december, the 'yule lads' come one by one in the nighttime to icelandic homes, where they leave a little gift in well-behaved children's shoes placed on the windowsills. naughty kids get a potato! in return, children might leave them some little gifts or snacks, like laufabrauð ("leaf bread"), a thin, crispy flatbread made specially at christmas time.
but these troll-beings weren't always benevolent gift givers; that came only with the popularisation of 'santa claus'. originally the 'yule lads' were troublemakers and that's how they got their peculiar names, as you can read about below with excerpts of the poem "jólasveinavísur" by jóhannes frá kötlum, each 'yule lad' is listed in order of the night he visits: the icelandic 'yule lads', known as “jólasveinar”, begin making their appearance 13 days before christmas arriving one by one each night and leaving small gifts for the children. 13 days of gifts as well as christmas gifts from santa,
the yule lads originated from icelandic folklore and were portrayed as mischievous trolls that would steal food and livestock and harass and scare the children. they are the 13 sons of a terrifying ogress named 'grýla' who is said to live in the icelandic mountains and comes down at christmas time to capture naughty children, her favorite snack.
the early stories of the 'yule lads' and 'grýla' were used to scare children into behaving. however in (1746) a public decree was issued prohibiting parents from using these stories to frighten their children into behaving. they have since turned from their life of petty crime and harassing, but are still known to pull a prank or two:)
today the 'yule lads' enjoy bringing joy to the children instead of scaring them. starting 13 days before christmas eve one of the 'yule lads' will visit the children each night and leave a gift. children put a shoe in the window sill where the 'yule lads' leave the gift in. the children receive small gifts such as small toys, books or a piece of fruit. however if they were bad they get a potato in their shoe!
i loved learning about these interesting 'yule lads' and the quirky traits each one is said to have. basically they all steal something in some form or other and are quite naughty characters. here is a list of the 'yule lads' in the order that they arrive.
01. stekkjarstaur, “gimpy”
the first 'yule lad' stekkjarstaur, arrives on the night of december, 12th he is known to harass sheep but has trouble doing so with his stiff peg-legs.
02. giljagaur, “gully Imp”
giljagaur, is the second 'yule lad' who is known to hide out in gullies waiting for the chance to steal milk from the farmers cows.
03. stúfur, “itty bitty”
the third 'yule lad' to arrive, stúfur, is extremely short and known for stealing pans so he can scrape the crust out of them to eat. while his extreme shortness makes him the smallest of the 13 'yule lads' he is also known to be very kind and a favorite among the children.
04. Þvörusleikir, “spoon licker”
Þvörusleikir, arrives on the fourth day and is said to be a very thin 'yule lad' due to malnutrition. he is known for licking Þvörur (long wooden spoons) that were used to scrap the pots.
05. pottaskefill, “pot licker”
pottaskefill, visits on the 5th day, he is known to wait for a chance to steal pots that had not been washed so he could lick the food remaining inside.
06. askasleikir, “bowl licker”
askasleikir, shows up on the 6th day. you can find him hiding under beds waiting for you to put down your askur (a type of bowl with a lid on it) which he then steals so he can of course lick whatever is left in the bowl.
07. hurðaskellir, “door slammer”
the 7th 'yule lad' to arrive, hurðaskellir, enjoys making lots of noise. as his name says his favorite thing to do is to slam doors, especially at night.
08. skyrgámur, “skyr gobbler”
skyrgámur, has a love for skyr, an icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt. when he arrives on the 8th day you can find him sneaking into pantries and eating all the skyr from the skyr tub.
09. bjúgnakrækir, "sausage swiper”
the 9th 'yule lad' bjúgnakrækir “sausage swiper” hides in the rafters and steals sausages whenever he can, ideally though while the sausages are being smoked.
10. gluggagægir, “window peeper”
gluggagægir, “window peeper”, the 10th 'yule lad' was said to not be as greedy as the other 12 'yule lads' he mostly enjoys looking through windows and from time to time will steal a toy or two that he sees in the room.
11. gáttaþefur, “door sniffer”
day 11 brings gáttaþefur, “door sniffer” has an abnormally large nose which he uses to smell laufabrauð (an icelandic bread ate typically at christmas time) so he can try and steal a loaf or two.
12. ketkrókur, “meat hooker”
ketkrókur, “meat hooker” the 12th 'yule lad' loves meat and does exactly has his name says, uses his hook to steal meat, preferably a smoked leg of lamb.
13. kertasníkir, “candle stealer”
kertasníkir, “candle stealer” is the last 'yule lad' to arrive. he likes to follow children around to try and steal their christmas candles which he then eats. - ketkrókur, “meat hooker” the 12th 'yule lad' loves meat and does exactly has his name says, uses his hook to steal meat, preferably a smoked leg of lamb.
other 'yule lads' the 'yule cat' (icelandic: jólakötturinn, or jólaköttur) is a monster from icelandic folklore, that eats children, a huge and vicious cat said to lurk about the snowy countryside during christmas time and eat people who have not received any new clothes to wear before christmas eve. the 'yule cat' (jólakötturinn, or jólaköttur) has become associated with other figures from icelandic folklore as the house pet of the giantess 'grýla' and her sons, the 'yule lads'
in modern times the 'yuletide-lads' have been depicted as taking on a more benevolent role comparable to santa claus and other related figures. they are occasionally depicted as wearing late medieval style icelandic clothing (only in some books and decorations), but are otherwise generally shown wearing the costume traditionally worn by santa claus.
list of 'yuletide-lads'
the 'yuletide-lads' are said to "come to town" during the last 13 nights before christmas. below are the 'official' thirteen 'yuletide-lads' in the order they arrive (and depart).
iceladic folklore snow men names in icelandic/english are based on hallberg hallmundsson's, translation of the icelandic poem.
stekkjarstaur: (sheep-cote clod) harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs.
giljagaur: (gully gawk) hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk.
stúfur stubby: (abnormally short) steals pans to eat the crust left on them.
Þvörusleikir: (spoon-licker) steals Þvörur (a type of a wooden spoon with a long handle – I. þvara) to lick. is extremely thin due to malnutrition.
pottaskefill: (pot-scraper) steals leftovers from pots.
askasleikir: (bowl-licker) hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their "askur" (a type of bowl with a lid used instead of dishes), which he then steals.
hurðaskellir: (door-slammer) likes to slam doors, especially during the night.
skyrgámur: (skyr-gobbler) a 'yule lad' with an affinity for skyr.
bjúgnakrækir: (sausage-swiper) would hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked.
gluggagægir: (window-peeper)a snoop who would look through windows in search of things to steal.
gáttaþefur: (doorway-sniffer) has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð.
ketkrókur: (meat-hook) uses a hook to steal meat.
kertasníkir: (candle-stealer) follows children in order to steal their candles (which in those days were made of tallow and thus edible)
jólakötturinn: (yule-cat) no new clothes? then he eats children.
from the earliest days of the norse settlement in iceland, winter was the time of year when wool was spun and new clothes were made and it was traditional for everyone to have new clothes for christmas. - http://gudmundsdottirbjork.blogspot.com/
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