Iceland’s Top 3 Christmas Folklore

The Yule Cat – Jólakötturinn

The Yule cat in Icelandic folklore is a huge and vicious cat who lurks about the snowy countryside during Christmas time (Yule) and eats people who have not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve.

In Reykjavik, during the festive period, locals put up a giant cat in lights to represent this Christmas Icelandic folklore.

The Yule Lads

The eve before December 12, everyone who believes in the Yule Lads will put a shoe on the window sill and keep it there for 13 days.

For good boys and girls, the Yule Lad will leave candy. If not, the Yule Lads are not subtle in expressing their disapproval: they fill the shoe with rotting potatoes.

The 13 Lads have differing personalities and all have different name. Icelandic child seem like to like the 13 santa clause like visits on the run up to Christmas.

There names are as named on Icelands historical museum as:

  • Sheep-Cote Clod: He tries to suckle yews in farmer’s sheep sheds
  • Gully Gawk: He steals foam from buckets of cow milk
  • Stubby: He’s short and steals food from frying pans
  • Spoon Licker: He licks spoons
  • Pot Scraper, aka Pot Licker: He steals unwashed pots and licks them clean
  • Bowl Licker: He steals bowls of food from under the bed (back in the old days, Icelanders used to sometimes store bowls of food)
  • Door Slammer: He stomps around and slams doors, keeping everyone awake 
  • Skyr Gobbler: He eats up all the Icelandic yogurt (skyr)
  • Sausage Swiper: He loves stolen sausages 
  • Window Peeper: He likes to creep outside windows and sometimes steal the stuff he sees inside
  • Door Sniffer: He has a huge nose and an insatiable appetite for stolen baked goods
  • Meat Hook: He snatches up any meat left out, especially smoked lamb 
  • Candle Beggar: He steals candles, which used to be sought-after items in Iceland.

Creepy Tales of the Yule Lads was actually banned in Iceland in 1746 due to parents terrifying their children with monstrous stories of what the Yule Lads do.

If that’s not enough to shake your tinsel.

Another folklore legend is creature called Grýla – A troll who comes down from the mountains on Christmas and boils naughty children alive.

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