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  • Writer's pictureMiss Sugarplum

The Story of The Yule Lads

This is an Icelandic tale of a family of giants and their cat. In the mountains of Iceland near the Dimmuborgir lava fields, it’s said that a family of terrible giants and their cat resides. The father, Leppaluoi, is lazy and often sends his wife, Gryla, out in search of naughty children for their favorite stew. Gryla is always hungry and is always on the look-out for bad people to eat. Once a year, on December 12th, Leppaluoi emerges in search of naughty children. It is recommended to be inside when night falls. Once Leppaluoi leaves, his 13 children and their big black cat all venture out for a little 13-day break from home.


Stekkjarstaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) - Harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. He ventures out on December 12th and returns on December 25th.

Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) - Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk. He ventures out on December 13th and returns on December 26th.

Stúfur (Stubby) - Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them. He ventures out on December 14th and returns on December 27th.

Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker) - Steals and licks wooden spoons. Is extremely thin due to malnutrition. He ventures out on December 15th and returns on December 28th.

Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper) - Steals leftovers from pots. He ventures out on December 16th and returns on December 29th.

Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker) - Hides under beds, waiting for someone to put down their askur (a type of bowl with a lid used instead of dishes), which he then steals. He ventures out on December 17th and returns on December 30th.

Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer) - Likes to slam doors, especially during the night, waking people up. He ventures out on December 18th and returns on December 31st.

Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler) - Has a great affinity for skyr (similar to yogurt). He ventures out on December 19th and returns on January 1st.

Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper) - Hides in the rafters and snatches sausages that are being smoked. He ventures out on December 20th and returns on January 2nd.

Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper) - A snoop who looks through windows in search of things to steal. He ventures out on December 21st and returns on January 3rd.

Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer) - Has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate leaf bread (laufabrauð). He ventures out on December 22nd and returns on 4 January

Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook) - Uses a hook to steal meat. He ventures out on 23 December5 January

Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) - Follows children in order to steal their candles (which were once made of tallow and thus edible). He ventures out on 24 December and returns on 6 January


The family’s big black cat, Jólakötturinn (the Yule Cat), leaves the house on December 21st and is only out until Christmas Eve. If the Yule Cat finds someone who has not received any article of new clothing, he drags them from their homes and eats them.



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