Christmas in Iceland is uniquely celebrated with the tradition of the “Yule Lads.” The Icelandic Yule Lads are a unique and fascinating part of Icelandic Christmas folklore. These 13 naughty lads bring gifts to children during the 13 days leading up to Christmas day! Each Yule Lad has its own magical personality and unique mannerisms, making them a cherished part of Icelandic Christmas!
Meet the Lads!
As mentioned above, each Yule Lad has a unique personality and appearance. Some are small and agile, while others are large and slow-moving. Some are friendly, while others are mischievous! Meet the 13 Yule Lads:
- Sheep-Cote Clod or Stekkjastaur (Stek-yar-staowr) is known for mischievously taunting sheep and stealing milk!
- Gully Gawk or Giljagaur (Gihl-ya-gowr) hides in gullies and waits for the right moment to sneak into barns and steal milk!
- Stubby or Stúfur (Stoo-fur) lives up to his name as a short lad who loves stealing pans to eat the crust left behind from cooked meals!
- Spoon Licker or Þvörusleikir (Th-vaw-ru-slawy-kir) likes to sneak into homes and lick spoons while food is cooking!
- Pot Scraper or Pottasleikir (Poj-ta-ska-fell) is like the Spoon Licker but prefers to lick the pots clean!
- Bowl Lickers or Askasleikir (As-ka-slay-kir) hides under beds and waits for people to finish their food so he can lick the bowls clean!
- Door Slammer or Hurðaskellir (Her’-tha-sket-ler) is known for keeping people awake at night by slamming doors!
- Skyr Gobbler or Skyrgámur (Skir-ga-mur) loves to eat skyr, a traditional Icelandic dairy product that’s similar to yogurt but is much thicker and creamier in texture!
- Sausage Swiper or Bjúgnakrækir (Byoo-gna-krae-kir) is always hunting for sausages to steal and eat!
- Window Peeper or Gluggagægir (Glu-gga-gai-gir) likes to peek into windows to see what people are up to!
- Door Sniffer or Gáttaþefur (Gatt-a-the-fur) has a big nose to smell traditional Icelandic Christmas food with! He likes to sniff around doors to find the best meal!
- Meat Hook or Ketkrókur (Ket-kro-kur) steals meat, specifically smoked lamb, from people’s homes!
- Candle Beggar or Kertasníkir (Ker-tas-nee-kir) sneaks into people’s homes and steals candles to light his way!
Yule Lad History
In Iceland, the Yule Lads are celebrated in various ways during the holiday season. Many families will place small gifts or treats for Yule Lads in their shoes each night leading up to Christmas day. Others create decorations featuring the Yule Lads or bake traditional Icelandic treats, such as Laufabrauð or “leaf bread,” in their honor.
In recent years, the Yule Lads have gained international recognition! Many tourists visit Iceland during the holidays to personally experience the tradition. While Yule Lads used to be seen as mischievous little lads, they are now considered beloved characters in Icelandic holiday traditions. The Icelandic Yule Lads bring magical fun to the Christmas season and are a treasured part of the country’s cultural heritage.