The 13 Icelandic Yule Lads

Arriving in Iceland in December has its own flair. Landing in Keflavik and taking the snowy road to Reykjavik in this beautiful and unique rose-bluish light brings even a grinch into a Christmas mood. But how celebrate Icelanders their Christmas? Is it true that there are 13 Santa Clauses existing in Iceland?




The answer is yes… On the 12th of December, the children in Iceland put their shoes on the window shelf so the first Santa Claus can bring presents for the (well-behaving) kids. In the morning they can find small presents in their shoes. If a child didn’t behave well it may be possible that there is just a potato in their shoes.

The 13 Santa Clauses (Yule Lads) are brothers. Their father’s name is Leppalúði and their mother’s name is Grýla. She was known to eat bad children in the old days but has become a Vegan since then and stopped eating children 😉 The Santa Clauses have also become better behaved since the old days but they had a cheeky side. All 13 Santa Clauses are known for something unpleasant they did to the people and got their name for that.

The first Santa Clause is Stekkjastaur. He has got a timber foot and tries to drink milk from the farmer’s sheep. Then Giljagaur takes the froth of the milk. The smallest one Stufur likes to lick the leftovers of pans. Þvörusleikir is known for licking spoons, as Pottaskefill likes to eats from the pots in the kitchen. Askasleikir steals food from dishes. Hurðaskellir slamming doors to scare people, Skyrgramur ate the farmer’s skyr and Bjúgnakrækir eats the people’s sausages. Gluggagægir likes to look into windows to check out if there is something he would like to steal. Gáttaþefur tries to smell the famous Icelandic Christmas bread that he is able to smell from kilometers away. One of the last is Ketkrókur who steals smoked meat. To get it he puts a stick through the chimney and he is very skilled in skewer the meat on it. At last Kertasníkir likes to eat candles, which were made of sheep fat in the old days, but he is also very fascinated by the flame.

After Christmas on the 25th, they start to go home. It takes them thirteen days to go back to the mountains, where they live with their parents, cat, and sister. After that, it is time to celebrate again, as it is known to be the last day of Christmas.