Thursday, 7 May 2009

The 13 Yule Lads

Yes, I did keep the boyfriend (he's not one of the guys pictured above) although I could have wrung his neck as the tires of the jeep crunched farther and father up the glacier. Also when the guide drover our jeep into a river and water submerged us half way up the doors. Other than times like these, he is pretty wonderful, so I must keep him and hopefully, he’ll keep me too!

So as we were being toured by our guide across the wilds of Iceland I asked the two questions that intrigue me the most about other countries – do the children here believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy? These are very important questions obviously.
At first, I think the guide and the other travelers thought I was mad, but then the guide composed himself and began to tell us about the gruesome Gryla and her thirteen Yule Lads. There’s no Santa story here. She is a hideous ogress who loves to eat stewed naughty or lazy children. She gets particularly hungry at Christmas time and sets off with a sack to find a bunch of naughty ones to gobble up.
Gryla was married to a couple of trolls and had 13 children to one of them. (Apparently trolls like hideous ogresses.) In Icelandic tradition, this family of trolls was used to scare cheeky children and motivate the lazy ones. Each Yule Lad has a very strong character – usually a rascal or a thief. Their names depict their character.

On the thirteen days leading up to Christmas, each Yule Lad has his day during which he sets off from the family home and travels over the mountains, glaciers, ravines, and caves, to visit each child across the country and deliver small gifts into their shoes. (Shoes are left by the windowsill here, no stockings over the fire.)
There’s the Sheep Worrier (I kid you not), the Gully Gawk, Stubby, the Spoon Licker, Pot Licker, Door Slammer, Bowl Licker, Skyr Glutton (delicious yoghurty treat), Sausage Stealer (pic above), Window Peeper, Door Sniffer, Mr. Meat Hook, and the Candle Beggar.

If the child has been naughty that day, the child receives a potato in his or her shoe. Kind of like our lump of coal, only worse. You do not want a potato in your shoe. Many adults boast they never had a potato in their shoe as a child.

While there, I bought the book The Yule Lads by Brian Pilkington. All photos are from this book. I always love to collect children’s books and this one is a delight.

As for the tooth fairy, some families tell their children about the fairy. Some don’t. Doesn’t seem to be as big a deal as the 13 Yule Lads.
Coming up – my underwear! Here’s a sneaky look at two sets of knickers I recently made. Check back tomorrow for adventures in knicker making!


BrigaBauble said...

Interesting--and terrifying all at the same time. Those pics are amazingly detailed but give me the heebie-jeebies!

I started my blog experiment today!

Emily said...

Hi Michele! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving some nice comments for me including an invite to visit your blog. I spent quite a bit of time cruising your blog and I think it's great! Love your pictures of your Iceland and France trips! These trolls/ogres are creepy...enough to scare any kid into being good all year round. Now I definitely need to come back to check out that underwear.

Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

Our Dad used to tell the story of the 'ring troll.' He said the troll would put rings on the toes of bad children and you could never get them off. We used to wake up every morning to look ... it totally freaked us out. Love the 13 Yule Lads story. xxoo

Annie said...

oooh, very excited to see your knickers :) hahahah, sorry. but i am!