13 Trolls

13 Trolls & Yule‏
13 Trolls & Yule‏
The Yule Lads or Yule men are figures from Icelandic folklore who in modern times have become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus. Their number has varied throughout the ages, but a current count lists 13 of them.  Icelandic children place shoes on their window sills — the counterpart of hanging stockings — during the thirteen nights before Christmas Eve.  Every night, one Yuletide lad visits each child, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on who was naughty and who was nice throughout the year.

The personality of the Yule lads varies region by region.  The Yule Lads were originally portrayed as anywhere from mischievous to criminal pranksters who would steal, harass or harm the population of mostly rural farmers.  The Yule Lads are traditionally said to be the sons of the mountain-dwelling trolls Grýla and Leppalúði. They would trek from the mountains to scare Icelandic children who misbehaved before Christmas. Additionally, the Yule Lads are often depicted with the Yule Cat, a large beast bearing a striking resemblance to the Cat Sithe, that, according to folklore, eats children who don’t receive new clothes for Christmas.

These Yule men are the offspring of Grýla, an ogress living in the Icelandic mountains. She is a fearsome character, described as part troll and part animal and lives in the mountains with her third husband, her thirteen children, the Yule men and the Yule Cat. Every Christmas, Grýla and her sons come down from the mountains: Grýla in search of naughty children to boil in her cauldron and the boys in search of mischief. She can only capture children who misbehave but those who repent must be released.

In modern times the Yule Lads have been depicted as taking on a more benevolent role comparable to Santa Claus and other related figures. They are generally shown wearing the costume traditionally worn by Santa Claus, though occasionally they are depicted wearing late medieval style clothing.  The Yule lads are said to “come to town” during the last 13 nights before Christmas. Below are the ‘official’ thirteen Yule Lads in the order they arrive (and depart).

Stekkjarstaur    (Sheep-Cote Clod): Harasses sheep but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs.
Giljagaur (Gully Gawk):  Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the and steal milk.
Stúfur     (Stubby): Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat crust left on them.
Þvörusleikir    (Spoon-Licker): Steals Þvörur (a type of  wooden spoon with a long handle to lick.   Is extremely thin due to malnutrition.    
Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper):  Steals leftovers from pots.
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.      
Hurðaskellir  (Door-Slammer)  Likes to slam doors, especially during the night.      
Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler): A Yule Lad with an affinity for skyr.    
Bjúgnakrækir     (Sausage-Swiper)     Would hide in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked.    
Gluggagægir     (Window-Peeper ) A voyeur who would look through windows in search of things to steal.    
Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer) Has an abnormally large nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate laufabrauð.    
Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook)  Uses a hook to steal meat.
Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer)     Follows children in order to steal their candles (which in those days were made of tallow and thus edible).
Compiled by Kamberlyn.   When not writing for Ravenhawks,  Kamberlyn works with clients seeking a more spiritually centered life.  In her work, she helps people realize the relationship, career and finances that belongs to their soul.  She can be found on KEEN at Kamberlyn Divine Love or through her website, LadyKamberlyn.com.


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