Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Yule Lads

Christmas is coming closer – first decorations appeared on the streets, first Christmas bazaars are opened, sales are here and regular food items appear on the shelves of the stores in a special Christmas attire. My first discovery was new milk cartons decorated with pictures of Yule lads.
Those Yule Lads is an Icelandic answer to Santa Clause, and there are 13 of them. They start coming to town on December, the 12th, arriving one by one, every night until Christmas Eve. Children suppose to put a shoe on a windowsill and those who have been good through the year, will find a treat there in the morning, but those who have been bad, will find potato instead.
They are named according with their appearances or habitual behaviour - there is Stiff Legs and Door Slammer, Sausage Swiper and Window Peeker, Candle Beggar and Spoon Licker, Shorty and Skyr Gobbler, plus a few others that I haven’t learn about yet. Many years ago all of them were wicked and used to steal and harass people. Nowadays they mellowed out and just bring gifts and entertain children. I heard that Lads’ parents, Grỳla and Leppalúði, stay true to their nature and are still on the look out for naughty children; they think that the naughtiest ones will make for great soup stock.
Yule Lads start going back home after Christmas Day, again one by one, with the last one living on January, the 6th.

Lads on the carton are (from top to bottom):

Þvörusleikir – Spoon Licker, he is the 4th of the Yule Lads to make his journey down from the mountains on the 15th of December. One of the hungry brothers who licks things clean, Þvörusleikir specializes in spoons.

Pottaskefill – Pot Licker, he is the 5th one of the brothers and comes to town on the December 16th You can easily guess what his specialty is.
Hurðaskellir – Door Slammer, he is the 7th of the Yule Lads to come to town on the December 18th. He likes to wreck havoc by slamming doors.

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