Yule Lads are coming
Yesterday all children of Iceland breathed a sigh of relief because finally the wait is over. December the 11th was here. Last night according to tradition children get to put a shoe in their windowsill. Why, would you ask. Because by last night the first Yule lad will have left a small toy or candy in their shoe.
Yule lads and their crazy family
Did you know that in Iceland we do not have one Santa Claus but thirteen! Jólasveinarnir or the Yule lads are the Icelandic Santa Clauses. They live in the Icelandic highlands and are the sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, descendants of trolls. The last thirteen days leading up to Christmas these lads come down from the mountains into town. One lad will come each day bearing gifts for children that behave well. The naughty ones will find a potato waiting for them. I would think probably all Icelanders have at one point in their childhood received a potato in their shoe. Even though bad behavior got us the potato most of us took great pride in eating that particular one for dinner the following evening.
The Yule lads derive from folklore and used to be nasty creatures who existed mainly to play tricks on people and scare children. Throughout the centuries they have softened up and now-a-days they only tease a little. This does not apply to their mother Grýla as she is still known for eating very naughty children.
New clothes or be eaten….. This strange family also has a pet called Jólakötturinn, the Yule cat. Grýla, the cats owner must have given it a taste for human flesh because for some strange reason it likes to feed on people who have gotten no new clothes for Christmas. Icelanders have a saying “að fara í jólaköttinn” loosely translated “to go into the Yule cat”. The saying implies that it is unlucky that you have not received a new piece of clothing for the holidays since you know who is on his way now.
Yule lad spotting… Since we are a helicopter tour company we of course often fly over the Icelandic highlands a lot. As well as spending a lot of time in the highlands for example when landing at remote warm natural pools. We will be keeping our eyes open to let you know if we see any of these mischievous lads on their way to town!