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Thirteen Trolls for Christmas

The Icelandic Yule Lads Make Up for Santa Claus

The Icelandic Yule Lads Make Up for Santa Claus

Icelanders celebrate Christmas with the thirteen Yule Lads, or Jólasveinarnir. You might say it’s the 13 Days of Christmas, except these begin on December 12. As they come, day by day, they reward good children by placing gifts into their shoes which have been left on window sills. And if the children are bad, there are always rotten potatoes.

Here is a description of the Yule Lads:

  1. Stekkjarstaur, or “Sheep-Cote Clod.” Harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. Arrives December 12, leaves December 25.
  2. Giljagaur, or “Gully Gawk.” Hides in gullies while waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk. Arrives December 13, leaves December 26.
  3. Stúfur, or “Stubby.” Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them. Arrives December 14, leaves December 27.
  4. Þvörusleikir, or “Spoon-Licker.” Steals long-handled wooden spoons (þvörur) to lick. Is extremely thin due to malnutrition. Arrives December 15, leaves December 28.
  5. Pottaskefill, or “Pot-Scraper.” Steals leftovers from pots. Arrives December 16, leaves December 29.
  6. Askasleikir, or “Bowl-Licker.” Hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their askur, or bowl, which he thereupon steals. Arrives December 17, leaves December 30.
  7. Hurðaskellir, or “Door-Slammer.” Likes to slam doors in the middle of the night. Arrives December 18, leaves December 31.
  8. Skyrgámur, or “Skyr-Gobbler.” Likes to steal skyr, the yummy Icelandic equivalent of yogurt. Arrives December 19, leaves January 1.
  9. Bjúgnakrœkir, or “Sausage-Swiper.” Prefers to hide out in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked. Arrives December 20, leaves January 2.
  10. Gluggagœgir, or “Window-Peeper.” A voyeur Yule Lad who would look through windows for things to steal. Arrives December 21, leaves January 3.
  11. Gáttaþefur, or “Doorway-Sniffer.” This one has an unusually large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð. Arrives December 22, leaves January 4.
  12. Ketkrókur, or “Meat-Hook.” As you can probably guess, he uses a hook to steal meat. Arrives December 23, leaves January 5.
  13. Kertasníkir, or “Candle-Stealer.” Follows children around in order to steal their candles (and eat them), Arrives December 24, leaves January 6.

The above illustration differs slightly from the above list, which is taken from Wikipedia, You get the general idea, though. Instead of a quick slide down the chimney with presents to leave under the tree, and leaving as soon as the milk and cookies have been imbibed, these snarky little trolls will take up more than three weeks of your time in all stealing your food, rogering your wife, making your dog pregnant, and causing various other types of mischief.

Just between you and me, I’ll take Santa.

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