Íslensku Jólasveinarnir, The Icelandic Yule Lads

Halló funny names fans. Happy New Year!

Today’s post, Icelandic lore. Every evening during the two weeks before Christmas one of the Yule Lads, also know as Iceland’s 13 Santas, come down from the mountains surrounding Dimmuborgir and cause trouble around the homes and farms in Iceland so their mother, Grýla—a troll, can eat the naughty children. The lads hang out for two weeks, then head for home one at a time during the two weeks after Christmas.

Starting 13 days before Christmas, the children of Iceland leave a shoe in the window each night. If the children are good, the Lads will leave them a treat, if they’ve been bad, they will leave a raw potato in their shoe. Beats a lump of coal.

Pronunciation guide video:

The lads in order of appearance:

Stekkjastaur also known as Sheep-Cote Clod. He harangues sheep, trying to drink their milk directly from the source. He lost his legs in an accident. Now he clods around using peg-legs. His new legs are stiff, so the sheep seem to be safe. Unless he takes up Yoga.

Giljagaur a.k.a. Gully Gawk. Like his brother, he has a milk fixation. He hides in gullies, watching for the moment he can steal milk from the cow shed.

Stúfur a.k.a. Stubby is the shortest of his family. Did I mention he has 71 or more siblings? His mom, must be very busy on Mother’s Day. Back to Stubby, he swipes pans to eat any left over crusties. Move over garbage disposal and dishwasher, Stubby’s in town.

Þvörusleikir a.k.a. Spoon Licker, gets his kicks when he licks a Þvörur. It’s a long-handled wooden spoon used to stir food. He’s pretty much suffering from malnutrition these days.

Askasleikir a.k.a. Bowl Licker. He’s doing better than his brother, Spoon Licker. He hides under beds waiting for bowls of food to be put on the floor. It used to be left overs in an askur, a lidded bowl. I’ll bet nowadays he checks to see which house has the most pets. It chow time.

Hurðaskellir a.k.a. Door Slammer. A Sagittarius, his hobbies include losing his temper and slamming doors while people sleep. Okay, I made that up about being a Sagittarius.

Skyrgámur a.k.a. Skyr Gobbler. Skyr is the Icelandic equivalent to yogurt. This lad is especially enchanted by the current Skyr novelty products showing up on the market these days, including drinkable Skyr. Also a member of the clean plate club and firm believer in stretchy pants.

Bjúgnakrækir a.k.a. Sausage Swiper. This nimble lad hides in rafters waiting for opportunities to steal sausage. In days of yore, homemade sausages were hung from the rafters to smoke. That doesn’t happen anymore. However, with the introduction of the pepperoni pizza, this lad’s waistline expanded into new territory.

Gluggagægir a.k.a. Window Peeper, a voyeur of epic proportions, peeps through windows looking for intriguing toys to steal. Wonder what he thinks of Exploding Kittens?

Gáttaþefur a.k.a. Doorway Sniffer. Uses his unusually large nose better than the Big Bad Wolf. Bakeries beware, this lad will eat you out of business. Casually standing by the door sniffing out the best treats—cake, lacebread, anything he can steal.  Doorway Sniffer runs on Dunkin.

Ketkrókur a.k.a. Meat Hook. In the old days he’d lower his hook down a chimney and pull up a smoking leg of lamb. Now he tries to steal any meat he can find. Where’s the beef?

Kertasníkir a.k.a. Candle Stealer. Before the modern era, candles were made from animal fat, not tallow like today. He would stalk unsuspecting children walking outside in the dark, steal their candles, and gobble them down—the candles not the children. I wonder if he now checks the candle labels for Transfats?

Takk fyrir (thank you) copy and paste for making the Icelandic names in this post possible. Takk fyrir Iceland for having such wonderfully named Lads.

Skál! (Cheers!)

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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10 Responses to Íslensku Jólasveinarnir, The Icelandic Yule Lads

  1. kerbey says:

    Yikes! These Yule Lads are creepy. My Santa Claus is kind and cheerful and he never licks bowls or steals meat! These poor children–having to fear this plethora of lads, using letters we don’t even have, a’s squished up to e’s, dots and accents, and tilted d’s! This is the stuff that nightmares are made of. No, takk fyrir. BTW, fyrir sure looks FEAR to me. 🙂

  2. ksbeth says:

    wow, that is a lot of scary lads!

  3. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    Icelandic Yule Lads also know as the 13 Santas. This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names.

  4. aplscruf says:

    “Elf on a Shelf” takes on a whole different meaning in Iceland!

  5. wdydfae says:

    “. . . Fannie ices this post!. . .”

    “. . . maybe we should call it the Fannie Name Blog now, as Cranium takes the wheel once more and keeps the operation going . . .”

    “. . .there’s enough Nordic mischief from these Krampus Mini-mes to bring Arto back out of the woodwork . . .”

    • Wdydfae–you out did yourself with this blurb. I nearly lost splattered my monitor when I read, “Fannie Name Blog”.

      In the words of Tim Allen from Galaxy Quest, “Never give up. Never surrender.” Because a little mischief is good for the soul. 😀

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