Folklore Friday: The Yule Lads
Hey Bookworms! The holiday season is almost over. Can you even believe it? I can’t! Last week we talked about Gryla, so I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about the Yule Lads. I know, I know, they sound like a holiday themed boy band, but they’re actually Gryla’s thirteen adult sons. Back in the day they filled in for Santa all over Iceland. Santa, surprisingly, didn’t start visiting Iceland until recently and now he shares the gig with the Yule Lads.
Where to start with these guys? Every night of the thirteen days of Christmas a different Yule Lad comes shambling down the mountain and visits the towns. They leave candy in the shoes of the good children and rotting potatoes in the shoes of the bad children. They also leave a trail of very specific chaos in their wake. Their names pretty much tell you what to expect on each lad’s night so, without further ado, meet the Yule Lads.
1. Sheep-Cote Clod roughly translates to “sheep lover” and that makes me uncomfortable. Thank you, next.
2. Gully Gawk likes to hide in ravines and keep his eyes out for any unattended buckets of cow milk. He will steal all he can get his hands on.
3. Stubby has an unoriginal and unkind name. Stub Stubs is a shorty pants and he uses his small stature to sneak around people’s kitchens and steal food from frying pans.
4. Spoon Licker is the first of several orally fixated Yule Lads we’re gonna meet. He licks people’s spoons. I don’t know why, but I do know it’s gross.
5. Pot Licker is obsessed with locating and licking clean any pots with food in them.This is also gross.
6. Bowl Licker is the most invasive licker of all. It used to be really common for Icelanders to leave covered bowls of food under their bed in case they wanted a midnight snack. Bowl Licker crawls under the bed and snatches the goodies out of any bowls.
7. Door Slammer is up next. Thank goodness this guy doesn’t want to lick any of your stuff. He just stomps around and slams doors to wake up the whole house.
8. Skyr Gobbler loves to gobble an Icelandic yogurt called skyr. This is relatively harmless but I object to the word “gobbler”. Always.
9. Sausage Swiper loves that forbidden sausage and will steal it every chance he gets.
10. Window Creeper is obviously a real creep. He looks into people’s windows and steals anything that catches his fancy.
11. Door Sniffer has a large nose he uses to sniff out baked goods. He loves a sweet treat and steals whatever he finds.
12. Meat Hook is a horrifying name for any holiday ambassador. He has a long stick with a hook on it; he uses to steal your cured meats.
13. Candle Beggar is our last, and certainly least upsetting, Yule Lad. Before electricity was a thing, candles were prized items. Candle Beggar is a little bit of a hipster and still loves to burgle all your candles.
Icelandic folklore is truly bananas, y’all. Why do so many of the Yule Lads want to steal your stuff? Or break into your home and just be weirdos? I’m not down to hang out with any of these dudes, even if they do fill my shoes with candy. They make Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation look like a dream guest. I hope you guys all have the happiest of holidays. Don’t forget to hide your spoons and sausage!