Friday, December 23, 2016

Winter Traditions and Holidays Part 20 - The Yule Lads

Yule Lads

  • Or Yulemen are 13 figures from Icelandic folklore who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus.
  • They put rewards or punishments into shoes placed by children in window sills during the last thirteen nights before Christmas Eve. Every night, one Yuletide lad visits each child, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on the child’s behaviour throughout the year.
  • The Yuletide-lads were originally portrayed as being mischievous, or even criminal, pranksters who would steal from, or in other way harass the population (at the time mostly rural farmers). They all had descriptive names that conveyed their modus operandi.
    • (Sheep-Cote Clod) - Harasses sheep
    • Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) - Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to steal milk.
    • Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker)
    • Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer) - Likes to slam doors, especially during the night.
  • The Yuletide-lads are traditionally said to be the sons of the mountain-dwelling trolls Grýla.
  • Additionally, the Yuletide-lads are often depicted with the Yule Cat, a beast that, according to folklore, eats children who don't receive new clothes for Christmas.

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