Iceland has many great Christmas traditions, but one of the most popular traditions involves the Yule Lads. Their parents were the horrible ogre Grýla who ate naughty children and her bedridden lazy no-good husband Leppaludi. (Photo: Lusinemarg, CC BY-SA 4.0) Not every beloved holiday tradition escapes its native land. Read more about the Yule Lads and how you can meet them on a trip to North Iceland. Text by Sigríður Ásta Árnadóttir. One of the things that makes Christmas in Iceland very different from most other Western countries is the absence of a Santa Claus: In his place we have 13 Yule lads. With Christmas just a little over two weeks away lets get more into the Christmas spirit and talk about a few of my favorite Icelandic Christmas traditions! Banner photo: Jólakötturinn (the Yule Cat, or Christmas Cat) illumination in downtown Reykjavík. Iceland’s Christmas Yule Lads are a staple in the country’s rich historic folklore. A popular poem about the Yule Lads by the late Jóhannes úr Kötlum, which first appeared in the book Jólin koma (Christmas is Coming) in 1932, served to … Christmas in Iceland lasts for 26 days, from the 11th of December until the 6th of January, and Iceland has 13 Santa Clauses or Yule Lads. This gets underway 13 days before Christmas, when the Icelandic Yule Lads, who live in the mountains, start coming to town, one per night. Iceland's 13 Trolls of Christmas In Iceland, there is no Santa Claus. With time there was a general agreement that those horrible guys were thirteen. If you’ve been good, remember to put your shoes on the windowsill so you can get a treat. All of them except Grýla. The Yule lads appear in old stories and folk tales. These merry mischief makers originally began as the offspring of child-eating ogres but over time have morphed in something slightly less terrifying (unless you are a naughty boy or girl). The modern variation has deviated far from its medieval origins, and it has been revamped for the contemporary, holiday-loving family. Dec 14, 2017 - Explore Jen T's board "Yule lads" on Pinterest. But the basic plot is as follows: The names for the Yule lads are rather simple and act as either a description of the lad or of their tendencies and each night is designated for a specific lad. An Icelandic Christmas can come across as a little odd to an outsider (or so I’ve been told), but it truly is a magical time. The total number of names for “Yule lads” is around 70. And there was their pet, the Icelandic Christmas cat. Now they are celebrated in good fun, and the children revere the myths. You should hope that the Yule Lads give you at least one pair of socks before Christmas, because if you don't get any new clothes, you'll get eaten by the Christmas Cat! Iceland’s 13 Naughty Yule Lads – A Christmas Tradition. Icelandic Yule Lads 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. Researching for this post, we found inconsistencies in the accounts of the lads as well as other aspects of Iceland s current Christmas traditions. Discover the strange and wonderful Icelandic Yule Lads - folklore ornaments designed exclusively for Sunfilm (Sólarfilma) by artist Brian Pilkington. Iceland doesn’t have the Coca Cola Santa – Iceland has a Christmas Family with 13 yule lads who start coming to town 13 nights before Christmas, one yule lad arrives every night until Christmas Eve when they start going back one by one. Traditions: From Icelandic folklore, the Yule Lads are 13 brothers who come down from the mountains, one by one, during the 13 nights before Christmas (December 12th through the 24th).Known for their mischief and mayhem, each has a peculiar specialty. 13 days of gifts as well as more Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, sounds like a great idea to me!. Expect no fewer than 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses. Christmas in Iceland (Jól) starts four Weeks before proper Christmas, which begins on December 24 (Aðfangadagur) and ends thirteen days later on January 6 (Epiphany).. Traditionally, one candle is lit each Sunday until four candles are lit on the 24th. There are 13 of these troublesome brothers, each one arriving in one of the 13 nights before Christmas to wreak havoc in Icelandic homes. Grýla aside, the Yule Lads is a tradition that we love here in Iceland. The eve before December 12, everyone who believes in the Yule Lads will put a shoe on the window sill and keep it there for 13 days. Iceland’s Christmas Yule Lads. See more ideas about yule, iceland christmas, iceland. Stekkjarstaur is the first one to show up, spending the days between December 12 and Christmas harassing sheep. Iceland’s 13 Mischievous Yule Lads. Phew! Yule Lads on a billboard inside a state park in Iceland, where they are reputed to live. No one is watching to see that all good children get presents. An off-handed remark about coal is usually enough to scare American kids into submission during the holidays. In fact, their names and number depended on where you were in Iceland. Leppalúði likes to stay at home, sometimes taking care of their many children and always making sure the pot is […] But, no Icelandic child is bad around Christmas-time. But in Iceland … This is none other than Jólakötturinn – the Christmas Cat – of Iceland.According to legends, the Christmas or Yule Cat is a monstrously huge black cat that only appears at Christmas Eve, when little children are sound asleep, dreaming of the glitter of the Christmas Tree and what marvellous gifts lie under it. While Scandinavia has its fill of unique Yuletide traditions (for example, the "Sauna Elf" in Finland) Iceland takes the prize for having the most hair-raising Christmas creatures. In Iceland, they are called jólasveinar ("yuletide lads"; singular: jólasveinn). Hopefully, you’ve fended off the Yule Lads and their attempts to steal your food and toys or harass you and your sheep. Iceland celebrates Christmas like most Western countries, with delicious food, gifts for loved ones, and family gatherings. Jólasveinar: 13 Yule Lads and Their Vicious Cat. In his place Iceland has a small army of Yule lads, trolls and Christmas monsters who ensure that everyone gets into the spirit of the Holidays. Why she hasn’t eaten her own unruly sons a long time ago is a riddle. Another one of my favorite Christmas traditions in Iceland is the Yule Lads (Jólasveinarnir). One of the things which make Christmas in Iceland a little different is the fact that the jolly gift-giving Santa Claus, dressed in red, only plays a minor role in the festivities. While most countries have one Christmas character that brings them presents, Icelanders take it to the next level. You made it through the 13 days of Icelandic Christmas. 13 Yule Lads visit Iceland’s children, who leave their shoes by a window every day leading up to Christmas. Before they go to sleep, kids take one of their best shoes and leave near an open window. They are the sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, trolls who live in the mountain with the Yule Cat. These days they are pretty nice and are the joy of Icelandic children before Christmas. This article appeared in Icelandair Stopover magazine, fall 2019. Christmas season starts when the first Yule Lad comes to town (13 days before Christmas Eve) and finishes when the last one leaves town (Twelfth Night). Meet the Yule Lads and friends. Well, the Icelandic Yule Lads aren’t particularly. In terms of destructive powers, one cat perhaps tops all his feline kin. GRÝLA An awful ogress that eats naughty children. This very specific number has to do with the number of Icelandic Jólasveinar (Santa Clauses, if you aren’t keeping up).. Every night until Christmas, a new Yule Lad will visit the window and place a small gift in the shoe. My favorite is the seventh Yule Lad, Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer), who likes to slam doors, especially at night. The horrible Icelandic Yule lads were a gruesome bunch of trolls that terrorized children and stole food from hungry peasants around Christmas. Personally, we are more frightened of Þvörusleikir. And none of these Icelandic Christmas creatures Icelandic Yule Lads. It’s believed that during each of the 13 nights leading up to Christmas, a Yule Lad comes down from the mountains to bring children gifts or candy – and sometimes play pranks. Iceland celebrated the holidays with unique characters, including the 13 Yule Lads, Grýla, and Jólakötturinn, as well as with traditions like the "Christmas Book Flood.” At 6:00 pm Church bells ring to start the Christmas celebration. Christmas in Iceland is an interesting experience as this country has many old traditions for celebrating Christmas. Yule Lads One Santa Claus … no there are 13 Yule Lads, The Yule lads are figures from Icelandic folklore who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus. This tradition is actually growing in strength with the highly-popular Yule Lads in Dimmuborgir near Mývatn in northeast Iceland, who welcome visitors throughout December each year. Leave this field empty if you're human: Don't worry, we don't spam! The Yule Lads are thirteen pranksters whose antics range from swiping yogurt to slamming doors in the middle of the night to wake people up. One of the best Christmas traditions, particularly for Icelandic kiddies, is the shoe-in-the window tradition. Yule Lads Christmas in Iceland: The Story of the Yule Lads We landed in Iceland the day before New Year’s Eve, which meant we just missed Christmas in Reykjavik- or so we thought. In Iceland, we have a troop of thirteen gift-giving pranksters known as the Yule Lads who each act as a pseudo-Santa Claus. The Yule Lads are known and cherished by Icelandic children, who excitedly place their shoes in the windowsills every night before Christmas, starting on December 11. 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