Yule: Iceland's 13 Yule Lads, Grýla The Mountain Troll and The Yule Cat

By Nifty Buckles | Nifty Buckles | 11 Dec 2019

Yule folklore would not be the same without Iceland's 13 Yule lads & Grýla the Mountain Troll & the Yule Cat.

Yule Lads or (Icelandic: jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar) the countdown begins each year on December 12th.

Hold the Ho ho ho! Santa Claus move over the 13 Icelandic Yule Lads are here to help bring joy and mischief to the children of Iceland 13 days before Christmas.

The Icelandic Christmas period is an exciting mix of traditional folklore and religion.
The Yule lads visit children 13 nights leading up to Christmas instead of One large elf (Santa Claus) that visits on Christmas eve. The 13 Yule lads visit each night before Christmas.

In Iceland each child during those nights, place one of their shoes on the windowsill. The well behaved boys and girls, will leave candy from the Yule lads. The naughty children shoes that were placed out for the Yule Lads will be full of rotten potatoes. Yikes!


The Yule lads each have a different personality.

Who knows they may send you some Bitcoin or Crypto this year? Or Watch out they may try to steal it!


A Yule lad list is below with their names and their claim to fame.


13 Yule Lads names:

1. Stekkhastur or  Sheep-Cote Clod (AKA Stiffy Legs) – Starting on Dec. 12:

This peg-legged lad sneaks into sheep pens and sucks the milk out of a family’s ewes.




2. Giljagaur or Gully GawkDec. 13:

Gully Gawk loves milk too, but he steals the foam off of buckets of fresh milk.




3. Stúfur or Stubby Dec. 14:

The shortest Yule Lad, Stubby breaks into a family’s kitchen to lick the burned bits of food off of their pots and pans.




4. Þvörusleikir or Spoon Licker – Dec. 15:

As his name implies, this scrawny lad sneaks into kitchen after dinner is over and licks all of the family’s spoons.




5. Pottaskefill or Pot Licker Dec. 16:

Pot Licker is more aggressive than his spoon-loving brother. He knocks at the front door, then takes advantage of the household distraction to sneak in and help himself to the pots in the kitchen.




6. Askasleikir or Bowl Licker – Dec. 17:

This lad’s greatest desire is to steal your bowl of food. He would hide under folks beds and wait till they placed their "askur," a main plate used for most meals then steal any food that remained on it.




7. Hurdaskellir or Door SlammerDec. 18:

He waits until the town is asleep, then runs around slamming doors for fun.




8. Skyrgámur or Skyr Gobbler Dec. 19:

Iceland has its own form of yogurt, which they call skyr. Skyr Gobbler is quite partial to it and enjoys stealing it from others




9. Bjúgnakrækir or Sausage SwiperDec. 20:

Also a food-stealing lad, this one will take all your sausage.




10. Gluggagægir or Window PeeperDec. 21:

He sneaks around at night looking for open windows to gaze into.





11. Gáttaþefur or Doorway SnifferDec. 22:

Always in search of bread,called Laufabrauð. Doorway Sniffer uses his large nose to find it inside homes.





12. Ketkrókur or Meat HookDec. 23:

In his search for meat, this lad sends his long hook down chimneys to steal meat.





13. Kertasníkir or Candle Stealer – Dec. 24:

December is quite dark in Iceland, and this lad makes it worse by stealing precious candles.





The Yule lads are the sons of the mountain trolls Grýla and her husband, Leppalúði.



Grýla is a huge, horrifying troll. She has three hundred heads with six eyes on each one. She has two white blue eyes behind her necks. Her teeth looks like burnt lava. Her sacks are so large she can carry away with her 15 tails, 20 naughty children per sack!


Grýla was first mentioned in the 13th century Sturlunga Saga, also mentioned by Snorri Sturluson in the Háttatal section of the Snorra Edda by the 16th century became a type of bogeyman. By the 20th century, Grýla’s characteristics had merged with Santa Claus. Her sacks are now filled with gifts for children, she hands out on Christmas day. Grýla and her sons the Yule lads accompany her with the Yule Cat.


The Yule Cat: A giant furry feline according to Icelandic folklore, eats children who do not receive new clothes for Christmas.





Wishing you all a Happy Yule! &  A Merry Christmas! :)



All Nifty Buckles Folklore Fun posts Copyright 2017-2020 All Rights Reserved


Sources & References:

*“Jólakötturinn, Grýla og Leppalúði”. (in Icelandic). Iceland: Mjólkursamsalan (MS). Archived from the original.

*Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology and Magic by Claude Lecouteux.

*Illustrations and photo in Public domain. Wikimedia.

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Nifty Buckles
Nifty Buckles

☆Nifty Buckles Folk Horror, Fantasy Revival, Fortean Arts & Culture Writer. *Always Listen to your spidey sense Nifty Buckles & Folklore Fun posts Copyright © 2017-2025 All Rights Reserved.

Nifty Buckles
Nifty Buckles

Hi! I'm Nifty Buckles of Folklore Fun Folklore Blogger & Fiction Writer. I enjoy write about Folklore from around the world. Follow me on Mastodon @NiftyBuckles

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